Sunday, November 22, 2009

ARNOVA: The state of nonprofit education

I spent most of Thursday and Friday of the ARNOVA conference in the "Blossom" room for all the nonprofit education focused sessions.

Since I'm studying what impact and use experiential learning components (e.g. applied projects, internships, practicums, capstones) have on nonprofit organizations, I enjoyed learning about what other nonprofit education scholars are studying in the field. Here's a synopsis:
  • Melissa Gaeke from the University of Southern California assessed what types of civic engagement and activities that students do on campus. They she surveyed students participating in these civic activities to assess if their motivation (ability, interest, and utility) changed over time and if their participation in these activities influenced their future civic engagement. She found that students were different before they participated in civic activities, and that participation in civic engagement influenced their motivation and interest in current and future civic engagement.
  • Anita Frederick and Judith Milleson from Ohio University shared about the process their University took to integrate project based learning into three different Masters programs in the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs. They also spoke about the time that faculty spend with students in order to present stellar projects to the clients. There are many teachable moments for the students and opportunities for students to integrate theory and practice in the work that they do.
  • Kathleen Fletcher from the University of Francisco surveyed 117 of her current students and alumni from the University of San Francisco's nonprofit masters and certificate program about the impact that the downturn in the economy has had on their job and nonprofit organizations. Here are some of her interesting findings:
    -21% were laid off or furloughed from a nonprofit job in the last 12 months.
    -50% of the organizations had not cut back on services or laid off staff.
    -Over 50% of the respondents had seen a decrease in funding from individuals,
    corporations, and foundations.
    -55% had their job role partially or entirely changed as a result of the economy
    -43% were concerned about future of their job.
    -Many mentioned their degree/certificate program was helpful in getting and keeping
    their jobs.
  • Jennifer Alexander and Jeffrey Brudney from Cleveland State University shared about a pilot study they had conducted with nine hospital HR directors about the competencies that managers should posses across sectors. The developed a list of competencies from MBA, public admin, and nonprofit curriculum. Many of these managers expressed the importance of soft-skills, team skills, and skills for specific jobs. They also found that financial management skills was an important competency for managers to possess.
  • Roseanne Mirabella from Seton Hall University and SueAnn Strom from American Humanics reviewed undergraduate nonprofit course syllabi and weekly course content. They compared these syllabi to the American Humanics competencies and NACC undergraduate guidelines. This study has important implications for the American Humanics certificate program in determining how much certain competency are being taught and which competencies should be covered more in the course syllabi.
  • Connie Campbell from CV Interventions, Scott Helm from University of Missouri, Kansas City and SueAnn Strom from American Humanics discussed a two part study. They surveyed the participants of the American Humanics Next Gen internship and the impact that internship had A) on the nonprofit employers and B) on student success. American Humanics is located at 63 campuses, and the next gen internship has placed 600 interns so far. I did not write down the survey response rate, however, out of the x# of respondents 52 interns were currently employed. Scott and Connie discussed how the internship provided signaling (one party conveys some meaningful information about itself to another party) to employers that Next Gen interns were more prepared for the job that other candidates. On the student side, interns felt their internships made them more prepared to work in national affiliate organizations (e.g. Red Cross, YMCA, Volunteers of America) rather than local unaffiliated agencies. Scott also spoke about where the American Humanics certificate program was housed, whether it was in a specific department or spanned across many departments.
  • Roseanne Mirabella from Seton Hall University and Mary McDonald from University of San Diego also assessed nonprofit masters course syllabi and weekly course content. They compared these syllabi to the NACC masters degree guidelines. The competencies listed the most were Fundraising, Nonprofit Management, and History and the competencies listed the least were Economics and Technology. Roseanne and Mary also expressed the importance of the relationship between each competency as well as the relationship of the competencies across Universities.
  • Jennifer Wade-Berg from Kennesaw State University and Judith Weisinger from New Mexico State University also looked at how diversity was being taught in the nonprofit masters course curriculum. They spoke about the importance of looking a diversity within the context of students becoming a global citizen and being culturally competent individuals. They encouraged programs to assess students' Intercultural Competencies when students enter the program and create diversity initiatives and opportunities for students to build up their intercultural competencies, more specifically, their perceptions, thoughts and actions.
My brief notes about these presentations do not do justice in explaining the importance this research has on the field of nonprofit management education as a whole. American Humanics just launched the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership and I hope these studies will be included in the journal soon.

No comments: