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Research and Methodology - Harvard’s UWC Impact Study

Researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have been conducting research on UWC’s impact since 2015, when, together with UWC South East Asia (UWC SEA), Research Schools International led an exploratory study on the impact of a UWC education. This preliminary study took place over a year and a half, and involved UWC SEA, UWC Red Cross Nordic, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa and UWC-USA. The main purpose of this study was to create a context and background for a more long-term, in-depth study, and to determine exactly which aspects of ‘impact’ such a study should focus on. 
 
Under the assumption that UWC develops particular characteristics in its community members (represented by students and alumni) that will lead them to have a positive impact on society, the central research question of the exploratory study was: “What characteristics related to ethical standards does UWC develop in its students and how does this manifest in their daily lives, as current students or later as alumni?”.

In spite of the typical flaws of self-assessment tools and survey questions too obviously hinting at the expected answer, the findings of the online survey, interviews and thought experiments that were conducted as part of this study suggested that a UWC education really does have an impact on its students’ senses of ethics, meaning that their values reflect UWC’s values. It was on the basis of these preliminary findings that the full four-year longitudinal study was launched in 2017 to find out which aspects of a UWC education impact its graduates on their way to becoming agents of change. This longitudinal study is being conducted by researchers of The Good Project of Project Zero (found on their website as “Investigating the Impacts of Educational Experiences”). 

For 50 years, Project Zero, a major research institute at Harvard University, has conducted research into the arts, the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural thinking, and ethics. Through their research projects, they are working towards a more enlightened educational process and system that prepares learners well for the world that they will live, work and develop in. The Good Project, one of the endeavours at Project Zero, promotes excellence, engagement, and ethics in education, preparing students to become good workers and good citizens who contribute to the overall well-being of society. Through research-based concepts, frameworks and resources, researchers seek to help students reflect upon the ethical dilemmas that arise in everyday life and give them the tools to make thoughtful decisions. 

For your information, Project Zero researchers have provided links to further information about the UWC Impact Study’s methodology below:

For any questions related to UWC's involvement in the study or technical problems please contact communications@uwcio.uwc.org. For any questions about the Impact Study itself, please contact Danny Mucinskas daniel_mucinskas@harvard.edu.


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