Do you work in higher ed or in collaboration with communities? In doing so, do you develop curricula, training manuals, videos, briefs or toolkits? Did you know that you can simultaneously increase the impact of these products on communities and make them count as legitimate scholarship?
We tend not to think of the youth programs, professional trainings and educational materials we develop as "scholarship". When we want to let others know about how we developed the product, its qualities and its impact, we write a journal article. We think about this as a separate process called scholarship. But there need not be a dichotomy.
Here are four keys to enhancing the impact of your work, both for communities and to advance your career in higher education:
- Tap community knowledge - when youth or youth development professionals who would benefit from your work are involved in conceptualizing and creating it, the result is a product that effectively meets their needs and that they can get excited about.
- Make your work scholarly and "pull" scholarship from it - ground it in the literature, evaluate it to inform continuous improvement, and document its impact on participants. This makes for a more effective program for youth and will form the basis of a scholarly product.
- Publish that journal article! Write about a unique aspect of the collaboration, an innovative programmatic feature, program outcomes, long-term impacts on youth, etc. This will improve the work of others in the field and will contribute to your career advancement.
- Publish the product itself. Journal articles are not the only form of scholarship. Peer review and broad dissemination are the cornerstone of scholarship and can be applied to your programs, educational materials, trainings and resources as well as journal manuscripts. Peer review can improve your product, and broad dissemination will expand its impact on stakeholders.
On CES4Health, academic and community peer reviewers critique submitted products and accompanying applications that document the scholarly approach, rigor, significance and quality of community engagement. Products accepted for publication can be accessed for free or minimal charge. Authors receive evaluation data, including web hits to the product description, number of product downloads and user feedback on product quality and impact. Youth related products span a range, including refugee youths' stories and stress reduction in schools for youth.
How do you broaden your impact on communities? Do you already "pull" scholarship from your community engagement? Would CES4Health be useful to you?
University of Minnesota Extension's Children, Youth, and Family Consortium
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