Updated: Sep 7, 2018
This month's Carnegie Hacks will be dedicated to working through the Tracking & Assessment items in the Carnegie application.
Every applying campus has one or two topic areas they are concerned about as they begin the application process. This month's topic causes a lot of campuses alarm.
Not to worry. By the end of this month, you'll be well on your way to tackling the application's tracking & assessment expectations.
Befriending Institutional Research
First things first, your success in this task hinges on the cooperation of your campus's institutional research/assessment/effectiveness folks. Time to reach out and get that relationship established, if you haven't already.
Cast a Wide Data Net
Conduct a scan, inventory, investigation, or whatever you prefer to call it. You want to know about any and all data that is being collected at your institution that has any relevance, however remote, to community engagement.
This is mostly a job for your IR/IA/IE folks, but you'll want to give them some coaching. Ideally, you'll have a chance to orient them to Carnegie and to the definition of community engagement. (IR is endless, often thankless, but highly necessary work. So, it couldn't hurt to have this conversation while treating your new IR allies to coffee or gelato.) If you don't provide some guidance, they'll be working from their assumptions about CE, and that is likely to have them omitting relevant info while including totally irrelevant info.
Example: The acronym NSSE stands for National Survey on Student Engagement. Your IR colleagues might assume that "student engagement" and "community engagement" are interchangeable and spend lots of valuable time preparing mounds of data on that topic for you, very little of which will have any relevance to community engagement. At the end of this purely fictional scenario, all parties have a good reason to be frustrated. But this can all be avoided with a little clarifying prep work.
While your IR folks are working their magic, you'll also want to take a closer look at the CE initiatives around campus. This is a good time to start a brain dump of all CE activity you can uncover, if you haven't already. You'll definitely want to invite input from others, because they will have perspectives you don't.
You can invite that input formally, through some kind of survey, or informally by talking to a few strategically-placed informants, or you can simply ask the members of the application team to compile a list of all the CE activities they know of.
And don't be surprised when you discover all manner of activities you never knew were happening. That's inevitable and it's a good thing.
As you compile the key characteristics of those programs and partnerships, remember to note what tracking and assessment data exists about each of them. (You may have to ask.)
Where We Go From Here
Between these 2 new caches of data: the institution-level scan of CE-relevant data and the assessment activities of CE initiatives, you will be sitting on a treasure trove of info to help you complete the next 3 steps.