When Dr. Amy Doolittle re-organized her course for senior social work students, she wanted to shake-up the traditional research method projects and partner the capabilities of her students with improvements in our community.
“I was trying to make that connection between real-life work and and what we’re doing in the classroom,” explained Dr. Amy Doolittle.
Students teamed-up with area agencies, including Partnership, Hamilton County Department of Education, and Bethel Bible Village, among others, to provide much needed research and improve outreach success in the Chattanooga community.
Students were divided into 14 groups. The semester-long projects involved conducting interviews, phone calls, and collecting existing data for analysis.One particular group examined the effectiveness of a domestic violence law enforcement training program hosted by Partnership every six months. In a letter to Dr. Doolittle, Carmen Hutson, Director of Crisis Services at Partnership expressed how valuable the students’ work was and would continue to be for her programs.
“Program evaluation is one of those services which most nonprofits avoid or don’t have the time or funding to complete. The research your students did for the Crisis Resource Center saved us a lot of time and funding by evaluating the services that we currently provide and the feedback from the results has been invaluable. I have already utilized the results of the law enforcement research to write a grant for additional funding for law enforcement training because we were able to show through the student’s research that the training is making a difference,” Hutson said.
“The research we did was actively able to help community agencies in the Chattanooga area be able to better themselves due to the findings,” agreed Summer Wittmer and Kayla Hopper.
By the end of the semester, the students’ hard work was demonstrated in the success of their projects. Their research was not only celebrated by agencies in the community, but also recognized publicly when three of the groups were invited to represent their findings at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Spokane, WA.
“This was not just another assignment, but something that made an impact to the community outside of UTC, our agencies. This assignment definitely made me feel like a social worker,” concluded Tara Anderson, senior.