The Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) is committed to providing scaffolded educational opportunities that are rooted in core intergroup dialogue processes and tailored to the needs of different constituencies. By assessing each of our offerings, we are able to capture a range of perspectives, thereby allowing us to better understand the needs of Cornell’s students, faculty, and staff, the impact of our work, as well as ways to improve our programming. Our approach to measuring impact varies depending on the programming being assessed; the depth of learning that can be expected in one 3-hour-long workshop is different from what participants might learn in a course that takes place across 13 weeks. We apply both qualitative and quantitative research methods in an effort to produce a thorough analysis of our work.
- Surveys. We use surveys to collect data about participants’ attitudes, interests, and what they think about the skills and information covered during their time with IDP. Pre- and post- surveys enable us to measure change among those who participate in our courses, whereas post-surveys administered in one-time workshops offer a snapshot of participants’ perspectives at the session’s end.
- Written work. Written reflections completed by course participants provide yet another rich source of data, with periodic reflections making it possible to look at changes that occur throughout the semester and final papers or projects yielding insight into how participants synthesize numerous ideas and experiences.
- Interviews & Focus Groups. When possible, focus groups or interviews are used to provide yet another avenue for participants to share their perspective.
- Facilitator Feedback. Finally, our peer-facilitators provide data reflecting their own experience of a workshop or course, contributing more nuance to our understanding of IDP’s impact.
Co-learning, the concept that everyone has things to learn and things to teach, is foundational to the programming we offer and also our approach to assessment. IDP creates environments in which we can teach people how to dialogue, and many of our assessment practices are aimed at elucidating what participants learn from us. Though we come to this work with specific experience and expertise, we also acknowledge the limits of what we know and actively seek out opportunities to go beyond our existing knowledge. IDP’s assessment work informs our understanding of what participants know, what they can teach us, and how they can be agents of change in creating more inclusive communities on campus and beyond.
The stakes of this work are high; IDP is supporting those who strive to create a more inclusive campus and a world with more equity, dignity, and respect. Assessing IDP’s impact is one manifestation of our commitment to providing high-quality programs that help individuals cultivate skills, knowledge, and relationships necessary for communicating, collaborating, and connecting across difference.