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Sociology Course evaluates local mentoring program

By Upstate Institute on August 31, 2016
The students in Janel Benson's Community-Based Research course present their work to staff members of Community Action.

The students in Janel Benson’s Community-Based Research course present their work to staff members of Community Action.

Colgate students in Professor Janel Benson’s Community-Based Participatory Research course partnered with Community Action Partnership (CAP) in spring 2016 to evaluate their now 10-year youth mentoring program. This important program provides Madison County youth who face adversity with up-to 18 months of weekly mentoring with an experienced adult. Before beginning the evaluation, students did an onsite visit at CAP to talk with program coordinators about their goals. Students then worked as a team to construct a detailed electronic database from nearly 10 years of program records containing student outcome information collected at several time points throughout the mentoring experience.They then analyzed these data using statistical software and presented their results to CAP program coordinators.  The results of the evaluation reveal that youth who participated in the mentoring program showed positive growth in resiliency, planfulness, and aspirations toward the future, with these patterns most pronounced for youth who developed a strong relationship with their mentor.

Student Reflections on the Course

Helen Jatho ‘16:“ It was a great introduction to the field of community based participatory research. It provided real world experience that is impactful. I loved having connections with the community and using everything I learned previously, and new skills from my sociology career in this project. I liked looking at the files and learning about where these kids come from, even the sad parts… we got a window into their lives and on top of that, the comments that they really love the program and that it was so impactful”

Renee Berger ‘16: “I’ve never taken on a project like this before… this was my first real experience because I didn’t have to write a thesis. The raw data we had to input was a lot but it was so worth it and working with a community partner and knowing who our work was for–that was what kept me going! I loved meeting with the people at CAP–JoAnn and Cory–and hearing from them and also seeing the kids’ responses and the outcomes of our files, made it worth it! “

Chelsea Mohr ‘17: “This project provided the best opportunity to see how what you learn in the classroom can really make an impact in the real world. Applying our sociology backgrounds to the project and learning more about community-based participatory research while we worked was very exciting and enriching. Additionally, we were able to experience what it is like to work on a research team. We all got to know each other’s strengths and learned how to work together to best complete the project. It was often an emotional process as sometimes we came across responses that were difficult to read. Having the support of a team made it easier, and knowing that the program makes a difference and that we could help the program make more of a difference made it all worth it.”

Tara Grennan ‘17:This was a very enriching experience. Not only did we learn a lot in the process, but we were able to apply a Colgate course to the real world. I am so glad to see the work that we put in positively affect CAP and how they see their mentoring program. I would love if more classes at Colgate were like Community Based Research and involved the community.”

Aicha Ba ‘17:The project and class were very fulfilling. We were able to make a difference by applying knowledge and skills from the classroom to the real world. This class really taught me a lot and opened my eyes to merging sociology with local community organizations. Colgate has many resources to offer and I hope Colgate offers more classes like this one to foster collaboration between Colgate and the local community. Throughout the semester, I have invested much of my time to producing quality work for this class. The CAP mentoring program is a great program and I  wanted to make sure that any work I contributed to the class would help CAP be one step further to achieving their goals. Although I had never used SPSS or really analyzed numerical data, I was open to learning and hoped to be more comfortable doing these things. I worked well with my partners and classmates more generally. They really helped me to be more confident with numerical analysis and allowed me to equally contribute and practice these skills, especially for the tables, analysis and literature review. 

Students in Benson's Community-Based Research Course work with Community Action Partnership.

Students in Benson’s Community-Based Research Course work with Community Action Partnership.

Hannah Hochman: ’17:I think Colgate needs more classes like this one. It was so much more than a grade at the end of the semester because we were accountable to people other than ourselves. We had to create a product that could to be used to help a meaningful organization. Working collaboratively with my classmates on this project made writing a research paper much more fun.”


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