16 May Making “A Next Generation Research Agenda” Reality
A Paradigm Shift
The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development highlights a critical challenge in “A Research Agenda for the Next Generation.” Research knowledge is not easily accessible to educators and therefore not applied to improve practices in school or youth programs. The Commission recommends a paradigm shift distinguished by meaningful engagement of academic researchers, school and nonprofit leaders, educators and staff, and youth in conducting research, prioritizing questions, and sharing knowledge.
Our Network Has the Experience and the Will
Today, Student Success Network creates, grows, and fuels a community of organizations collectively closing the opportunity gap for youth. We have the experience — meaningful engagement of multidisciplinary, diverse stakeholders in collaborative inquiry — to enact a next generation research agenda. We have the will to complete the required paradigm shift — doing research with communities rather than to them — because experience has shown us the effectiveness of this approach.
Student Success Network launched on the bold idea that measuring youth social-emotional learning (SEL) in the same way across a Network of youth-serving organizations would allow practitioners to learn from each other in order to improve outcomes for youth. That vision has become reality. Over the past six years, the Network has developed a model for SEL measurement that engages practitioners, researchers, and youth. To make the resulting data actionable, the Network produces tailored reports about students’ SEL strengths and needs, documents promising practices from practitioners at bright spot sites, and trains practitioners and youth in continuous improvement.
Practitioners and evaluators in the Data Advisory Working Group (DAWG) prioritize existing research questions and suggest new ones.
Our Network Will Engage in Co-Design and Partnership
In the coming years, we will increasingly integrate our research, continuous improvement, and elevating youth voice programs to create a multidisciplinary and diverse research team composed of educators, nonprofit staff, academic researchers, and young people. This team will co-design research questions focused on problems of practice that are of immediate concern locally and have broad implications for the education field. They will engage in iterative inquiry cycles that include root cause analysis, small tests of change, collecting qualitative and quantitative data, analyzing data, and sharing results. We believe that applying the principles of partnership and co-design that made our measurement rigorous, relevant, and accurate will make our research findings even more accessible and applied.
Our Network Will Advance a Shared Research Agenda
As a first step, the Network is engaging practitioners and evaluators in our Data Advisory Working Group (DAWG) and teens in our Elevating Youth Voice (EYV) program in vetting and advancing a shared research agenda. Student Success Network and Research Alliance shared our existing data sources along with their limitations, as well as our current inquiry questions and the resources required to answer them with both groups. We then asked them to vote for the questions they found most useful and add their own. Here are the results from our “dotmocracy” voting activity.
Our research questions will continue to evolve as we gather input. We will share these questions and continue our “dotmocracy” voting at the SSN EXPO on June 27th. RSVP and attend to join our efforts!