Community-Engaged Research Practicum

Retention research on underrepresented and low-income students shows that engagement with research significantly affects students’ sense of belonging, self-efficacy, graduation rates, professional development, and graduate school attendance. This project expands research on affordable housing in Santa Cruz County, engaging underrepresented and low-income students in faculty mentoring and community-based research. Participating students gained professional and research skills: interviewing protocol, data collection, analysis, critical thinking, web design, and collaborative problem-solving.

In Winter quarter, 88 undergraduate students enrolled in either a new course (Socy 139T Community Engaged Research Practicum), Socy 177e Eco-metropolis or an independent study. As part of the research associated with this course, students collected 308 surveys in the Live Oak neighborhood; organized a Tenants Rights Workshop in the Beach Flats neighborhood (60 community attendees); organized a Pathways to College event in the Live Oak neighborhood (30 community attendees); and worked directly with 6 community organizations. In Spring quarter, 108 students enrolled in 3 project related courses (Socy 139T, Literature 179C: Creative Writing Methods and Materials: Socy 131: Media, Marketing and Culture) or in a group independent study; an additional 8 students receive paid research internships. Spring quarter accomplishments included: students completed a campus tenants’ rights workshop (75 student attendees); collected 506 surveys in Watsonville; presented project information to 35 underrepresented high school students at Pájaro Valley High School; collected 65 interviews with local experts as well as renters; founded a student renter organization; created digital stories based on project interviews; created digital maps using secondary and project data; worked with 5 community partner organizations in the city of Watsonville. During the summer, 20 students received paid internships to continue surveying, interviewing, working on project data analysis, and presentations. By August 2017, students have collected a total of 1,327 surveys and 74 completed renter interviews.

A total of 344 students were directly involved in this effort and an additional 407 students have been reached through outreach and information dissemination, resulting in a total of 751 students impacted. Professors Steve McKay and Miriam Greenberg and 2 graduate students provided research mentoring and guidance. Our culminating event took place on Oct 19th in downtown Santa Cruz, attended by between 500-700 students, staff, faculty, and local residents.

The research has produced new data and a website on local housing and market conditions faced by students and other renters. The No Place Like Home website features tools and resources to help students and community members navigate local housing issues, learn their tenant rights, and provide connection to local and state housing agencies/organizations.

Collaborators: Center for Labor Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, SOMeCA, Everett Center


Lead Contact Name: Steve McKay & Miriam Greenberg
Lead Contact Email: &
Theme: Transforming Classroom Pedagogy