Monitoring and evaluation framework
An essential component of the Business Plan is a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness of the alliance in contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of the Barwon-South Western Region. A monitoring and evaluation framework is needed to generate evidence that the alliance is meaningful, substantive, generates 'currency' that is useful to each organisation and the wider community, and has adequate leveraging resources (Ramaley 2006). A university-community alliance devoted to promoting healthy and sustainable communities needs to 'enrich and expand the learning and discovery functions of the academic institution while also enhancing community capacity' (Ramaley 2005, p. 2).
Community capacity framework to assess community engagement
Community capacity outcomes - Deakin DHS alliance March/June 2008 (pdf 30k)
Community capacity has been defined as 'characteristics of a community that enable it to mobilize, identify and solve community problems' (Goodman et al., cited in Kegler, Norton and Aronson 2003, p. 3). Community capacity has been used to assess the impact of Healthy Cities initiatives by including measures of:
- civic participation
- mechanisms for community input and for the distribution of community power
- skills and access to resources
- sense of community and social capital/trust
- social and inter-organisational networks
- community values and history
- capacity for reflection and learning.
- Changes in community capacity can be assessed by mapping change across five interconnected levels of analysis. These are:
- changes in individuals
- changes in civic participation
- organisational development
- inter-organisational activity
- community level changes, including changes in social policy and community norms (Kegler et al. 2003).
This framework, illustrated in Figure 3, maps closely with the common characteristics of engaged universities (Ramaley 2005).
The 'Environment for Health' framework used the community capacity framework developed by the Center for Civic alliances.
The alliance's monitoring and evaluation framework, developed during 2007, attempts to integrate community capacity and community engagement frameworks. For example, if its three-year strategy were successful, outcomes at the level of the individual person might include new skills and knowledge for students, Deakin University staff, Department of Human Services staff, research partners, citizens and other stakeholders. In particular it would include skills to encourage civic participation, with key stakeholders increasingly participating in the governance of the alliance, and students taking on service learning and related leadership roles in the community. An organisational-level change already under way is the development of a Department of Human Services Student Placement Protocol to streamline the process of placing and supporting Deakin University students in positions with the Department of Human Services and its funded agencies. Inter-organisational changes might include new and extended linkages between the alliance and a diverse range of public, private, non-profit and community-based organisations. Finally, community-level changes might include evidence that the alliance has played a contributing role in the adoption of new public policies that encourage community wellbeing, such as new urban planning regulations that promote sustainability, walking and public transport.