KOKOMO, Ind. — As a research intern, Allison Wisler helps recruit and retain volunteers to speak for children in Howard County courts.
She works with Indiana University Kokomo’s Applied & Community Research Center, assisting director Nancy Greenwood, Ph.D., as she studies how the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can recruit people to meet the needs of the 100 children waiting for a voice.
“I’m not just answering phones as an intern, I’m doing real work that will make a difference, and working directly with faculty to learn how to do research,” said Wisler, a senior from Kokomo. “This is the kind of experience I never could get from a classroom assignment.”
Wisler, who is double majoring in sociology and English, read and summarized initial research readings, and prepared a report for Greenwood. She also helps with development of survey questions, targeted at current and past volunteers, with the goal of pinpointing why they participated, why they stopped, and what might be done to retain volunteers.
“It’s important for the university to share its resources to impact our region,” said Greenwood, who also is coordinator of sociology. “At the same time, we are including students in the research, giving them a valuable hands-on learning experience. Plus, faculty have the opportunity to do research in their area of expertise. It’s a win for everybody.”
Applied research means the outcome will be used to solve a real world problem.
The center began during the fall 2015 semester with three projects.
In addition to research with CASA, Greenwood collaborates with the United Way’s 211 statewide information and referral program, helping determine their research needs.
This fall semester, Niki Weller, assistant professor of sociology, has been working with leaders at the Gilead House, a Kokomo drug and alcohol recovery program. They are partnering to develop a system that gathers client data and creates a quality control assessment tool in order to evaluate the programs offered there.
Weller’s class load was altered to allow her the necessary time to offer her assistance, while the center funded an adjunct faculty member to fill that gap, Greenwood noted.
Other faculty members are encouraged to propose projects to the center.
“We envision this as a resource for faculty in all areas, where they can perform research in partnership with community agencies,” Greenwood said.
For more information about the Applied and Community Research Center, go to iuk.edu/applied-community-research-center.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.