Higher Education Global Evidence Summit: Research to Practice Sessions - Innovation
Embedded Research Translation: An Innovative Model for Collaborative Research Impact
- Priyanka Brunese, Research Scientist, Purdue University, LASER PULSE
- Juan Posada-Burbano, Project Manager, University of Notre Dame, LASER PULSE
- Laura Riddering, LASER PULSE Research Translation Advisor, Catholic Relief Services, LASER PULSE
- Alexandra Towns, LASER PULSE Research Translation Strategy Lead, Catholic Relief Services, LASER PULSE
- Yuehwern Yih, Academic Director of LASER PULSE and Professor, Purdue University, LASER PULSE
Higher education has a unique role in international development; however, there is little consensus on terminology or frameworks for how academics can collaborate with development practitioners and policymakers. LASER PULSE is an innovative program that fosters collaboration between these stakeholders to deliver research-driven solutions to field-sourced development challenges.
In this session, presenters:
- Shared findings of a rapid literature review on different research translation approaches;
- Situated LASER PULSE’s Embedded Research Translation (ERT) model in the findings as an innovative new model for collaborative research impact in international development; and
- Conducted an interactive panel discussion to hear from researchers and practitioners in LASER PULSE projects who have applied the ERT model.
Catalyzing Innovation: ROI for a BHEARD Technology Seed Grant Program
- Cait Goddard, Capacity Development and Design Thinking Specialist, Michigan State University
- Lyda Hok, Director, CESAIN, Royal University of Agriculture
- Karim Maredia, Senior Associate to the Dean in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University
- John William Medendorp, Associate Director, Urban Center, Purdue University
This empirical/applied research study seeks to answer the question, “How can HE systems and institutions best incentivize innovative research?” The study analyzes the value of investments in innovation and private sector engagement through a return-on-investment analysis of an innovative competitive seed grant program carried out by the Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development (BHEARD) Program at Michigan State University together with the Royal University of Agriculture, a research-intensive university, Impact Hub Phnom Penh, and the private sector in Cambodia. This study presents an evaluation of the social, organizational, and economic returns to the initial investment by the BHEARD program in a simple innovation and technology transfer competition. For this mixed-methods analysis, data was collected through individual interviews, focus group interviews, and primary data collection on financial costs and benefits to understand the economic effects of the program and the social and organizational impacts.
Engineering Application and Research Skills as a Pathway to Local Innovation
- Jennifer DeBoer, Associate Professor, Purdue University
- Sally Kimani, Program Coordinator, Tumaini Innovation Center
- Juvenal Mbonihankuye, Project Director, Youth, Education, and Sports (YES)
- Dhinesh Radhakrishnan, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Purdue University
Developed from a 7-year collaboration amongst researchers, teachers, students, and implementing centers, this research and practice initiative is an innovative pathway for localized technical education and employability for displaced youth. With a focus on street youth, refugees, and internally displaced peoples, this panel discussion guided participants through three areas:
- Active, Blended, Collaborative, and Democratic (ABCD): The student-facing component combines curriculum, pedagogy, and social-emotional learning, resulting in higher attainment and agency for learners.
- Localized Engineering in Displacement (LED): The teacher-focused component collectivizes local teachers’ expertise and prioritizes their relevant knowledge.
- Research: Rethinking how different institutions coordinate to conduct research led by displaced students. Participants learned ways to engage theories of critical pedagogy, community-of-practice, localized/indigenous knowledge, and assets of displaced youth to solve community challenges and translate skills to career pathways.
Innovating Global Partnerships and Research Leadership Programs for Higher Education Transformation
- Sharon Hooper, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Michigan State University
- Amy Jamison, Co-Director, Alliance for African Partnership, Michigan State University
- Getrude Mphwanthe, Lecturer in Dietetics, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Amelia Odo, Senior Lecturer, University of Nigeria-Nsukka
This session addressed how equitable global partnerships coupled with individual leadership strengthening programs can be structured to lead to innovation and higher education transformation. The presenters examined the effectiveness of the Alliance for African Partnership’s (AAP) framework and drew on evidence from three case studies of AAP-supported initiatives. AAP – a consortium of 10 African universities, an Africa-based think tank, and Michigan State University – is testing the contention that equitable partnerships are necessary for catalyzing innovation in higher education research, teaching, and outreach. This approach taps into a broad paradigm shift among development donors and practitioners towards global partnerships in which knowledge flows in both directions, local priorities take center stage, and each partner brings their complementary strengths. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with partnership case studies to explore successes and lessons learned and dive deeper into partnership models.
Internationalizing the English Curriculum: A Social Justice-Oriented Collaboration With Nepali Teachers
- Peter De Costa, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
- Laxmi Prasad Ojha, Doctoral Student, Michigan State University
Despite being a diverse country, Nepal’s multilingual and multicultural composition is not addressed in educational policies and programs, mainly due to a nation-building plan that dictates that Nepali should be the official language of Nepal. The presenters shared a collaborative project that engaged U.S.-based graduate students who partnered with an English teacher in Nepal to co-design a unit of English language lessons. These lessons were subsequently delivered in her classroom with an aim to develop critical pedagogical awareness with a focus on social justice issues. The graduate students reconceptualized themselves as resources while also ensuring a two-directional knowledge exchange with the partner teacher in Nepal. Presenters also found that the teacher-partner in Nepal moved between English, Nepali, and other indigenous languages by adopting a translanguaging approach (García et al., 2017). The presenters argued in favor of a culturally sustaining pedagogical approach (Paris & Alim, 2017) that honors the linguistic and cultural resources that Nepali students and teachers bring with them to the classroom.
Identifying African Universities’ Research Management and Knowledge Transfer Needs Through Self-Assessment
- Paul Gonza, Research Manager, Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University
- Tim Shorter, Senior Program Officer, IREX
- Rebecca Ward, Senior Technical Expert, IREX
The global research funding ecosystem recognizes “Grand Challenges” facing the world, purportedly providing platforms for international research collaboration. However, many universities in less economically developed countries risk being marginalized in, or locked out of, global research consortia because they struggle to meet funders’ administrative requirements. Since 2016, IREX has supported over 100 leaders from African Research Universities Alliance to build personal capabilities and their institutions’ capacity for research management through training, fellowships, grant funding, and coaching to support institutional change. Synthesized data from over 50 participants was presented with qualitative data from training exercises to provide a snapshot of capacity across several African institutions. Program alumni demonstrated how they have used data to tailor interventions and prioritize institutional performance improvement to complement aggregated data. Finally, program evaluation data was shared, indicating that this data-informed approach to program design leads to positive institutional change.
Addressing Needs of Agro-Processing MSMEs: Project-Based Learning Approaches for University Students
- Emmanuel Baidhe, Project Administrator, Makerere University
- Moses Kalyango, Project Administrator, Makerere University
- Julia Kigozi, Senior Lecturer, Makerere University
- Isaac Oluk, Research and Development Lead, University of Kentucky
This session explored how higher education institutions can simultaneously skill students and develop innovations that meet the needs of industry – in this case, the food industry in Uganda. The presenters showed how they applied two approaches – human-centered design (HCD) and project-based learning (PBL) – to engage students and address challenges faced by agro-processing medium, small, and micro-industries. The presentation outlined challenges in student learning within the agro-processing industry and the proposed training models that can bridge the identified gaps. Through an interactive panel discussion, the team shared how HCD and PBL were employed to build innovation ecosystems that respond to the needs of external stakeholders and provide students with skills to apply theories to practice.
Building Preservice Instructors’ Capacity Through Collaboration During COVID
- Marion Fesmire, Research Faculty, Inclusion and Literacy Specialist, Florida State University
- Ana H. Marty, Research Faculty, ECE and Literacy Specialist, Florida State University
- Kate Schell, Doctoral Student, Florida State University
The presentation team explored innovative efforts to adapt working modalities for collaboration between higher education institutions when in-person training is impossible. They discussed strategies used to strengthen the capacity of preservice teaching faculty in the Philippines to deliver research-based, early literacy instruction in the context of multilingual education. Through an interactive panel discussion, participants learned about an approach to connecting preservice teaching faculty in distant locations. They heard how to successfully co-develop teaching modules for a revised Early Childhood and Elementary Education program. The group explored how aligning preservice and in-service content and pedagogy training contributes to developing a cadre of teachers that can support each other in the implementation of evidence-based strategies for multilingual literacy instruction. The team also presented creative technological techniques to overcome the challenges of a low-resource context, integrate active learning in virtual settings, and promote sustainable change.
Incentivising Research and Innovation Among African Higher Education Institutions in Conflict-Settings
- Angella Atukunda, Research Manager, Makerere University, ResillientAfrica Network
- Nathan Tumuhamye, Director of Operations, Makerere University, ResillientAfrica Network
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are strategically placed to address information and data needs to inform development challenges in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and localities. HEIs that have been affected by conflict have unique challenges. The presenters highlighted these issues using a two-country case study involving South Sudan and Somalia. The session presentation and discussion reviewed several challenges, including the lack of investment in funding for research and innovation, political instability and conflict, and the ethical review processes. They also addressed challenges for women entrepreneurs from Muslim countries and homebound women who lack support, funding, and encouragement. Participants learned tips and recommendations from these two case studies from male and female scholars.
Research to Practice: How Investments in HEIs Support Innovation and Development
- Danice Guzmán, Associate Director, Evidence and Learning, University of Notre Dame
- Lila Khatiwada, Senior Research Associate, University of Notre Dame
- Audrey-Marie Moore, Principal Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research
- Josh Meuth Alldredge, Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research
USAID’s investments in higher education can increase innovation and evidence-based policy-making in the countries where USAID has a presence. However, the realization of such results can take time. To examine the long-term impacts of these investments, the team employed quasi-experimental and mixed methods to conduct long-term retrospective evaluations of two programs. Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) is a grant program that funds scientists in USAID partner countries to conduct research activities to solve development problems locally. The Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) program engaged seven university development labs to strengthen the role of HEIs in development. This panel discussion presented the findings of both studies, focusing on what works in terms of research translation for community development and policy-making. Attendees learned about the long-term evidence supporting both activities beyond what can be detected at the close of the program.
Assessing HEI-led Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Pilot Testing in Four Countries
- Elias Damtew Assefa, Postdoctoral Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology D-Lab
- Elizabeth Dolan, Research Associate, University of Notre Dame
- Elizabeth Hoffecker, Research Scientist and Lead of the Local Innovation Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology D-Lab
- John Muthama, Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Nairobi
One of the learning priorities in the USAID 2022-2026 Learning Agenda relates to effectively measuring change and transformation at the local system level. Assessing change within local systems of innovation and entrepreneurship, or “local innovation ecosystems,” is challenging yet essential for interventions that seek to strengthen these ecosystems and improve their performance. This session shared the process and early results of pilot testing diagnostic approaches designed to assess the capacity and performance of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems based at and/or driven by higher education institutions (HEIs) in LMICs. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working on the USAID-funded ASPIRE project (under BRIDGE-Train) and the University of Notre Dame’s Pulte Institute for Global Development working in the USAID-funded Supporting Holistic and Actionable Research in Education (SHARE) presented their lessons learned from piloting closely related innovation ecosystem diagnostics in Guatemala, Kenya, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The Innovation Scholars Program: A Higher Education Institutional Capacity Development Story
- John Bonnell, Director, Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development (BHEARD) Program & CAES ISP, Michigan State University
- Jackline Bonabana-Wabbi, Associate Professor and Program Manager, CAES-ISP, Makerere University
- Emmanuel Kaunda, Professor and Vice-Chancellor, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
- David Mkwambisi, Associate Professor and Director of MUST Institute of Industrial Research and Innovation, Malawi University of Science and Technology
- Kurt Richter, Associate Professor and Director, LUANAR and MUST ISP, Michigan State University
USAID’s Edulinks and HELIX APS identified the Innovation Scholars Program (ISP) as an innovative model for capacity development for higher education institutions (HEIs). Separate USAID mechanisms funded the ISP at three African universities in two countries. The goal of the presentation was to share findings by telling the ISP story, followed by audience questions, critique, and discussion about what does (and does not) work to improve organizational performance in HEI core missions to drive economic growth and social impact. ISP leaders from three African HEIs and MSU will interact with participants after presenting evidence that the ISP (1) strengthens individuals’ capacities to use new tools to produce innovation in education, student success, outreach, and research; (2) strengthens institutional capacity to craft culture(s) of innovation by training individuals to identify problems and create inclusive solutions; and (3) triggers system impact by strengthening the relevance of HEIs, establishing cohorts of innovators, and growing communities of practice.