Faculty

Community-Engaged Scholarship Toolkit

What is "community engagement"?

How is engagement different from "outreach"?

What makes an activity "scholarship"?

What is "community-engaged scholarship"?

How is community-engaged Scholarship different than "service"?

What is "evidence" and what is "documentation"?

Characteristics of Quality Community-Engaged Scholarship

1. Clear Academic and Community Change Goals

2. Adequate Preparation in Content Area and Grounding in the Community

3. Appropriate Methods: Rigor and Community Engagement

4. Significant Results: Impact on the Field and the Community

5. Effective Presentation/Dissemination to Academic and Community Audiences

6. Reflective Critique: Lessons Learned to Improve the Scholarship and Community Engagement

7. Leadership and Personal Contribution

8. Consistently Ethical Behavior: Socially Responsible Conduct of Research and Teaching


Community-Campus Partnerships for Health has led the way in producing resources on community-engaged scholarship. The following resources are reproduced from: Jordan C (Editor). Community-Engaged Scholarship Review, Promotion & Tenure Package. Peer Review Workgroup, Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, 2007. Copyright © 2007, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health. This report may be reproduced in whole or in part as long as it is properly cited. 

What is "community engagement"?

Community engagement is "the application of institutional resources to address and solve challenges facing communities through collaboration with these communities." (Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions. Linking Scholarship and Communities. Seattle, WA: Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, 2005.)

How is engagement different from "outreach"?

Outreach has traditionally been associated with the dissemination of information to public audiences. Such dissemination has taken numerous forms but it is typically one-way communication rather than an exchange. Engagement implies a partnership and a two-way exchange of information, ideas, and expertise as well as shared decision making.

What makes an activity "scholarship"?

The following list of characteristics of scholarship is adapted from Recognizing Faculty Work, by Robert Diamond and Bronwyn Adam (1993):

More simply stated, scholarship is work that is public, peer reviewed and available in a platform that others may build on. Faculty take a scholarly approach when they systematically design, implement, assess and redesign an activity, drawing from the literature and best practices in the field (Association of American Medical Colleges, Advancing Educators and Education: Defining the Components and Evidence of Educational Scholarship).

Scholarship is, at its heart, about contributing to a body of knowledge. Such contributions could be in the form of the creation of new knowledge or the dissemination of knowledge.

Creation of knowledge is not just research. Integrating existing knowledge in new ways, making linkages, applying knowledge in new ways, or coming up with new methods would also be considered part of creating knowledge. Simply conducting a research project might not be considered scholarly unless the project results are documented, able to be reviewed by peers (including practitioners, policy makers, community members, etc. if appropriate) and disseminated.

Dissemination is not just publishing. It is teaching and consulting, community talks, legislative testimony, media presentations, etc. Dissemination is about putting knowledge in the public domain.

What is "community-engaged scholarship"?

Community-engaged scholarship (CES) involves the faculty member in a mutually beneficial partnership with the community and results in scholarship deriving from teaching, discovery, integration, application or engagement.

How is community-engaged scholarship different from "service"?

Community-engaged scholarship integrates engagement with the community into research and teaching activities (broadly defined). Engagement is a feature of these scholarly activities, not a separate activity. Service implies offering one's expertise and effort to the institution, the discipline or the community, but it lacks the core qualities of scholarship.

What is "evidence" and what is "documentation"?

The reader will see that in the section below on Characteristics of Quality Community-Engaged Scholarship, each description of a characteristic is followed by a set of bullets about evidence of that characteristic. This section is followed by a discussion of documentation. What's the difference? Evidence includes the behaviors, activities, and qualities consistent with a given characteristic. Documentation is how the scholar presents that evidence in a dossier.

Characteristics of Quality Community-Engaged Scholarship

Note: These characteristics are drawn and adapted from these sources: Portland State University Promotion and Tenure guidelines, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine Promotion and Tenure guidelines, National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement guidelines, and Glassick C, Huber M and Maeroff G, Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997.

Quality and significance of scholarship are the primary criteria for determining faculty promotion and tenure. Quality and significance of scholarship are overarching, integrative concepts that apply equally to the expressions of scholarship as they may appear in various disciplines and to accomplishments resulting from various forms of faculty work, such as research and teaching. For more information on community-engaged scholarship and faculty promotion and tenure, see our Tenure and Promotion page.

A consistently high quality of scholarship, and its promise for future exemplary scholarship, is more important than the quantity of the work done. The following 8 characteristics are intended as the basis for the evaluation of the quality and significance of Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES):

1. Clear Academic and Community Change Goals

A scholar should clearly define objectives of scholarly work and clearly state basic questions of inquiry. Clarity of purpose provides a critical context for evaluating scholarly work.

Evidence of clear goals includes:

2. Adequate Preparation in Content Area and Grounding in the Community

A scholar must be well-prepared and knowledgeable about developments in his or her field. The ability to educate others and conduct meaningful work depends upon mastering existing knowledge.

Evidence of adequate preparation and grounding in the community includes:

3. Appropriate Methods: Rigor and Community Engagement

Meaningful scholarly work must always be conducted with appropriate rigor. In the case of research, rigor facilitates valid research design, data collection, as well as interpretation and reporting of results, so that valid conclusions can be drawn from the findings. In the case of teaching, rigor ensures that teaching methods and curriculum are grounded in practices known to produce student learning outcomes and in appropriate theoretical frames and research-based evidence.

In many instances the engagement of communities can enhance rigor and facilitate the study of issues and research questions that would not be as effectively studied apart from such communities (for example, research related to health disparities). Community engagement can also enhance the rigor of teaching and facilitate understanding of environmental, sociological, and political contexts of issues or theories treated in the classroom. Therefore it is imperative for community-engaged scholars to provide evidence to demonstrate that rigor is maintained, or even enhanced, through community engaged approaches.

Evidence of scientific rigor and community engagement includes:

4. Significant Results: Impact on the Field and the Community

Scholars should evaluate whether or not they achieve their goals and whether or not this achievement had an important impact on and is used by others. A primary goal of community-engaged scholarship is to beneficially impact the communities in which such scholarship is conducted. The assessment of CES impact must go beyond just the reporting of positive, neutral, or negative outcomes of any given project. The scholar should explicitly state what knowledge they created or applied and what impact it has had or may likely have in the future. It is important to note here that "significant results" is intended to be broadly defined and not only "statistically significant results."

Evidence of significant results/impact includes:

5. Effective Presentation/Dissemination to Academic and Community Audiences

Central to scholarly pursuits is the effective presentation and dissemination of results. Scholars should possess effective oral and written communication skills that enable them to convert knowledge into language that a public audience can understand. Scholars should communicate with appropriate audiences and subject their ideas to critical inquiry and independent review.

Evidence of effective presentation and dissemination includes:

6. Reflective Critique: Lessons Learned to Improve the Scholarship and Community Engagement

Community-engaged scholars should demonstrate an ability to critically reflect on their work, their community partnerships, the issues and challenges that arise and how they are able to address these (for example, issues of power, resources, capacity, racism, etc). Community-engaged scholars should demonstrate an ability to consider such questions as: why did this project succeed or fail to achieve its intended outcomes; what could be done differently in succeeding projects to improve outcomes; is this project an idea that is deserving of further time and effort?

Evidence of reflective critique includes:

7. Leadership and Personal Contribution

One of the most consistent criteria for promotion or tenure in the academy is evidence of a national or international reputation. Community-engaged scholars should demonstrate, within their discipline, within the arena of community-engaged scholarship, or both, that their work has earned them a reputation for rigor, impact and the capacity to move the discipline or community change work forward. In addition, community-engaged scholars should demonstrate an ability to serve in leadership roles.

Evidence of leadership and personal contribution includes:

8. Consistently Ethical Behavior: Socially Responsible Conduct of Research and Teaching

Consistently ethical behavior links scholarship to personal virtues. This reference suggests that scholarly work must be conducted with honesty, integrity, perseverance and courage. Ethical behavior considers that scholars will foster a respectful relationship with students, community participants, peers, and others who participate in or benefit from their work. Ethical behavior ensures the responsible conduct of research and the respectful engagement of communities and individuals to conduct research and teaching. Ethical behavior must consider cultural or community implications as well as university policies.

Evidence of consistently ethical behavior includes: