Projects on Display for First Year of Research Triad Program

Pensacola – Faculty and students in the University of West Florida College of Education and Professional Studies recently unveiled projects on which they collaborated with community partners during the inaugural year of the Research Triad Program.

The Research Triad Program is the brainchild of Dr. Carla Thompson, the director of the UWF Community Outreach Research and Learning Center. Thompson said she developed the program when Dr. William Crawley, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, put out a request in 2015 for a competitive faculty excellence award.

Thompson’s research triad concept began with her selecting one faculty member from each of the six departments in the college.

“The (faculty members) each selected at least one student – some of them had two – and a community partner, and they had to propose a study and conduct it all last year,” Thompson said.

Poster presentations for each project were held Nov. 9 at the Argonaut Club. The projects ran the gamut, from a study looking at the cost of violation of probation holds on a local jail to the effect that endurance races, such as cycling events or marathons, have on the local economy.

Thompson and other faculty and students from UWF gave a presentation on the first year of the Research Triad Program at the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ conference on global engagement and social responsibility held in October in New Orleans.

Thompson said the faculty, students and community partners each had equal roles in the six projects that were part of the Research Triad Program.

“The (Association of American Colleges and Universities) was impressed that we were giving equal weight to all three partners,” she said.

Matthew Light, a graduate student studying public administration, worked on the project “Participant Spending within a Portfolio of Endurance Races” with Dr. Matthew Ruckman, assistant chair of the Legal Studies, Public Administration and Sport Management Department. Their community partner on the project was sport tourism foundation Pensacola Sports.

“There was very little research on mass participation events and the free spectator events,” Light said. The research that was out there was all unanimous that for large towns, small cities this is the direction of the future.

“Pensacola Sports, they have a lot of interest in the bed tax side of it, because that’s where they get a lot of their revenue. We wanted to look at the demographics of what we were attracting here and in Santa Rosa counties.”

The faculty members who helped lead each project have already selected faculty members from their own departments to helm research projects for next year.

“They’ve selected their students and their community partners, and they’re ready to go,” Thompson said.

Thompson believes the Research Triad Program has helped better unify the departments in the College of Education and Professional Studies.

“What I’ve found that’s really wonderful about the research triad program is that prior to the research triad program everybody was conducting research in silos, and this program has faculty, students, and community partners talking to each other in our college,” Thompson said. “We are sharing what we’re doing instead of kind of all doing our own thing.”