COCES Community Engagement Survey
The COCES developed a brief on-line survey to obtain information about university community engagement and service initiatives of faculty, staff, and students. The survey was emailed to members of the university community who have either been previously identified as having significant involvement in community engagement and service activities or who are serving in administrative or coordination roles dealing with engagement or service at the unit level.
Results of the survey produced some interesting findings. Not too surprising was the finding of a deep commitment of our faculty, staff, and students to individual volunteer work with various agencies and faith-based groups.
When looking at USC-sponsored public engagement activities, the data indicate that volunteerism and service-learning initiatives represent the highest percentage of engagement activities (approximately 35% each). Outreach activities (i.e., those in which communities request assistance from a faculty or staff member based upon that individual’s specific area of expertise) constituted 21% of engagement activities. Community-engaged scholarship initiatives in which faculty and staff collaborate with communities to address specific research questions constituted approximately 13% of public engagement activities.
A further analysis of the data indicated the following:
- The primary focus of the USC-sponsored public engagement activities is service (61%), followed by teaching (28%) and research (11%).
- In terms of individuals involved in public engagement activities, faculty represented the largest group (78%), with undergraduate students closely behind (71%).
- The largest percentage of engagement activities were conducted in the Midlands area (46%) but there was significant representation in the Low Country (28%) and statewide (24%). 13% of the initiatives reported a presence at the national level with 4% indicating an international focus.
- Regarding the availability of assessment or impact data for community engagement and service initiatives, respondents indicated that 45% of the activities produced identifiable data, with over 50% of those projects presenting such data either in web descriptions or published documents.
- Funding for the majority of engagement or service activities that were not associated with a course was primarily from department, college, or university resources. Over 18% of projects were funded collaboratively between community/business/agency and department or college. Only 10% of engagement or service projects were supported through federal funds.
It is anticipated that results of surveys of this nature will be used in a number of ways, including informing our various publics of the scope and depth of the university’s community engagement and service as well as enabling the COCES to highlight specific engagement and service projects or programs on a regular basis.