It’s clear after a few moments of conversation how passionate Whitney Ball ‘16 and Hannah Sullivan ‘16 are about giving back to their community. As native San Antonians, their concern for the city and its residents is deeply rooted. Their summer work with the Mellon Research Initiative under the supervision of sociology professor Amy Stone reflects this commitment to helping others.
Ball and Sullivan’s summer research benefits Silver and Black Gives Back, the official charity of the Spurs NBA team. Specifically, Ball and Sullivan are working with the Team-Up Challenge. Team-Up Challenge is a service learning program that engages students of all ages in community improvement projects. Students are encouraged to find problems that need solving, like renovating a local playground, then they draw up a plan for improvement. The Team-Up Challenge awards funding to the top twenty teams, and a final award of $20,000 to the top five teams.
|Ball edits questions in a preliminary draft of the survey for Team-Up Challenge|
That’s where Ball and Sullivan come in. Their research is evolving into a survey for former participants, carefully analyzing the results of the program. Their questions are carefully designed to learn, from students of all ages, how the program has affected their leadership skills and feelings of community responsibility.
“Writing a survey for little kids was one of the hardest parts,” Ball admits, “There are just certain things they can’t answer, because they don’t understand. Hannah did a lot of research into what a child can cognitively process, and how to word question in a way that helps them to truly understand what’s being asked.”
|The test survey was written at a child's comprehension level|
Ball and Sullivan’s survey is special because it is the first professionally researched survey used for the Team-Up Challenge, as well as the first pre- and post- survey. The concrete data from the survey will help potential donors to the project see the statistical results of the program, garnering more funds. If successful, their research will translate directly into more money for the program, and more funding for students in the future.
|Sullivan reviews the results of a test survey|
Sullivan, who had once planned to go into social work, has found that research offers another pathway to contribute to her community: “I never thought I would do social science research, or even major in sociology. When I finally started doing quantitative research, I realized I could make a difference that way.”
Learn more about the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Trinity University here.