Research

BTtoP has conducted and commissioned research that characterizes what is available and known regarding the specific nature of engaged learning, civic engagement and development, and student well-being.

"Well-Being: An Essential Outcome for Higher Education," in College Teaching and Learning for Change: Students and Faculty Speak Out
Ashley Finley, National Evaluator
For over a decade, the national Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) project has promoted the idea that well-being is an essential outcome of college students' learning and civic engagement. The project emphasizes the full promise of a liberal education: to be liberally educated is to possess the complex skills and abilities necessary for navigating an ever-changing, highly diverse global world. A liberal education includes not only intellectual skills - it also includes the personal capacities that help students to flourish in their lives and future careers. The expectation is that a liberal education should enable all students to understand their civic responsibilities and to connect to others on campus and in local, national, and global communities. Through this civic commitment and shared understanding, students will not only find joy in learning - they will gain a larger sense of who they are and the value of their contributions within and across communities. By providing modest funding, BTtoP supports campus programs and practices connecting students' learning and civic efforts in engaged-learning practices - such as learning communities, first-year seminars, and service-learning courses - to outcomes related to their personal growth and well-being. This article provides specific examples of programs funded through the BTtoP Well-Being Initiative. These programs exemplify the campuses' commitment to a liberal education that links well being with the institutional mission, resource allocation for sustained programmatic development, and faculty and staff engagement.
College Teaching and Learning for Change: Students and Faculty Speak Out is available for a 20% discount using this flyer!

 
Ashley Finley, National Evaluator
 
Ashley Finley, National Evaluator
 
Ashley Finley, National Evaluator
This study was developed to provide greater empirical understanding of the ways in which faculty innovate and enhance their teaching and the degree to which they feel these efforts are valued on campus. The study surveyed faculty across 20 colleges and universities, of various institutional type and size, regarding faculty practice and perspectives on what encourages and limits pedagogical innovation, views on institutional and disciplinary cultures of teaching and learning (including promotion and tenure processes), and the presence and influence of institutional rewards or incentives intended to encourage excellence in teaching. Additionally the study addresses the relationship between these reward structures and the presence of institutional cultures of teaching and learning on relevant faculty outcomes, such as job satisfaction, commitment, and mental well-being. Content from this study, including findings, is the property of Ashley Finley and the national Bringing Theory to Practice Project, funded by the S. Engelhard Center.  When citing any part of the study or findings, attribution must read: “This study was supported by the Bringing Theory to Practice Project and conducted by Ashley Finley, Ph.D, National Evaluator for Bringing Theory to Practice and Director of Assessment & Research at AAC&U.”
 
The College Outcomes Project, directed by Dr. Richard Hersh (Senior Consultant, Keeling & Associates; former President, Trinity and Hobart & William Smith Colleges) is an extension of the Bringing Theory to Practice Project (BTtoP) and has received support from both the S. Engelhard Center and from the Spencer Foundation in Chicago, to study and report on what a deeper analysis of learning outcomes might mean and suggest for change in higher education.
 
While there has been much discussion on the need to address the nature and quality of higher education and the well-being of students, little has been said of how we can achieve these goals. The Outcomes report has found that higher education must become far more transformational and integrative, and that formative learning outcomes assessment must be aligned with summative assessment and far more explicit, systematic, and tightly linked to standards, objectives, curricula, and pedagogy.
 
Team of Scholars, Researchers & Practitioners: Richard H. Hersh, Chair; Matthew Bundick; Richard Keeling; Corey Keyes; Amy Kurpius; Richard Shavelson; Daniel Silverman; Lynn Swaner 
 
Related material: Richard J. Shavelson, et al: On Assessing Learning Broadly and Responsibly
 
Ashley Finley, National Evaluator, Ph. D & Lynn Swaner, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC, ACS
The Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) Cost Study identified and itemized specific direct and indirect costs related to resources, personnel, and programming employed by colleges and universities to address the various symptoms of student disengagement. Nine (9) institutions of various type (e.g., public vs. private) and size participated in a limited study of these costs and related trends in spending and resource allocation through the use of an online survey instrument. Aggregate resource allocation generally rose over time, with the study finding a 67.56% increase over five years in institutional commitments toward total resource allocation for BTtoP core dimensions (counseling and psychological services, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, civic engagement, and engaged learning). Staffing resources for these areas either largely declined or stagnated however; thus while schools might be spending more on these dimensions, the question is raised of how effectively resources are being distributed. In addition to presenting the findings of the Cost Study, this report also provides suggestions for institutions interested in furthering the development and dissemination of campus commitment for the promotion of engaged learning, civic development, and student mental health and well-being efforts. The Cost-Study Report and Instrument are the property of Bringing Theory to Practice.  Please do not reprint or distribute either without the consent of the authors or Bringing Theory to Practice. Cost Study Instrument (.xls)
 
Dr. Penny A. Pasque, University of Oklahoma, compiled this monograph from the proceedings from the National Symposium for Civic Engagement and Mental Health, held March 16-17, 2008 at the University of Michigan.
 

Lynn Swaner, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC, ACS
This major research study examines both the theoretical levels and the available empirical research regarding the linkages among forms of engaged learning, forms of depression and substance abuse, and the civic development of students.