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.

Research Question #2
Research Question #3
Research Questions #4 and #5

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!

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Alexandra Lotero

Alexandra is passionate about the power of putting actionable data in the hands of practitioners and youth. Her mission is to support practitioners, researchers, and youth in creating data-informed, relationship-driven cultures that continuously improve student experiences that put all youth on a path to success. She is the proud daughter of Latin American immigrants, a City Year New York AmeriCorps alum, and the former Operations and Program Director for the 115-member NYC Civic Corps and 10-member NYC VISTA AmeriCorps programs at the NYC Mayor’s Office.

  • Martha Lucia Llanos
    Posted at 14:04h, 17 May Reply

    Congratulations! Great work on giving a strong voice to young people; helping them to understand how social emotional learning (SEL) is one key to be better at working as a team member and on their own personal lives.

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