Current and Recent Projects

The CEA conducts both one-time evaluation projects, as well as multi-year, multi-site evaluation projects. Our current and recent projects are described below:

US HUD: Iowa Watershed Approach

The Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) is a five-year project funded under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development National Disaster Resilience Competition. This collaborative project was awarded $97 Million to bring together local, state, federal, and private organizations from across the state of Iowa to address issues to mitigate flooding, increase resilience, and improve water quality. The CEA conducts evaluation process monitoring for the entire project, providing formative feedback to the primary investigators and annual reports to the funding agency to demonstrate their outcomes.

US HUD: Cost Effectiveness of CDBG-DR: Flood Mitigation and Vulnerable Populations

The purpose of this project is to analyze economic and social benefits of flood recovery disbursements and provide guidance for future HUD program grantees.  The research will evaluate and quantify the cost-effectiveness of CDBG-DR and National Disaster Resilience Competition projects implemented in Iowa and Louisiana.  The program evaluation aims to describe project activities as they unfold and document data to inform program improvements and understand the extent to which the program achieved its intended outcomes.

NIH: NNLM All of Us Community Engagement Center

The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) All of Us Community Engagement Center (CEC) at the University of Iowa is part of the NNLM All of Us National Program. The NNLM All of Us National Program seeks to provide awareness of the NIH All of Us Research Program to communities that are underrepresented in biomedical research and improve public access to health information by partnering with libraries, community-based organizations, and other NNLM member organizations across the United States. The CEC coordinates the planning, implementation, and evaluation of community engagement and outreach activities across 8 NNLM regional medical libraries. CEA’s role is to design, implement, and coordinate evaluation activities; develop and standardize evaluation instruments; provide evaluation training and resources; and disseminate evaluation findings via reports, publications, and presentations.     

NIH P20: Center for Advancing Multimorbidity Science

Funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR), this project seeks to enhance interdisciplinary, biobehavioral research focused on complex multiple chronic conditions (MCC) in human adult populations. By providing educational enrichment on topics related to MCC, facilitating interdisciplinary research collaborations, funding pilot projects for junior faculty, and offering integrated analytics consultations, the project aims to build thematic science in this emerging field of study and develop the infrastructure necessary to support ongoing research aimed at developing targeted therapies for patients suffering from MCCs. The CEA has provided evaluation process monitoring, documenting the extent to which they are achieving their desired outcomes and providing formative feedback to guide their decision-making.

NIH R01: Dissemination of the Cardiovascular Risk Service (CVRS)

This 5-year National Institutes of Health grant with the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy is designed to test the scalability of the CVRS in 12 large, organizationally and culturally diverse (diverse) hospitals and health-systems, many with high proportions of minority and underserved patients, using a pragmatic cluster-randomized design. The CEA works with program faculty to conduct focus groups and interviews with stakeholders, pharmacists, doctors, staff, and patients at all 12 sites.

NIH: Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program

This University of Iowa program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and aims to provide recent graduates from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical fields with a structured and customized program of career development activities, seminars, coursework, GRE preparation, and laboratory research experiences. These program components are designed to enhance the scholars’ qualifications for graduate school. The CEA collaborates with the program faculty to assess the extent to which the program meets its intended outcomes and gather information on areas for program improvements.

NSF-INFEWS: Paths to Sustainable Food-Energy-Water Systems in Resource-Limited Communities

Funded by the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program, this project is developing a new generation of water professionals that can create sustainable water solutions for diverse communities. The program was designed and delivered with an innovative curriculum that emphasizes practical and interdisciplinary training experiences and was designed for a diverse cohort of graduate student trainees. This program is rooted in experiential and service learning and emphasizes skills that will enable trainees to become future leaders in a wide range of academic and professional career paths. CEA’s evaluation efforts focus on documenting the experiences and outcomes of the trainees, as well as the potential impact of this new model of graduate student training on institutional change.

NSF Big Data Spokes: An integrated big data framework for water quality issues in the upper Mississippi River basin

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs grant, this project is a three-year collaborative project among University of Iowa Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and Iowa State University Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. The objective is to develop a cyberinfrastructure framework to support large-scale water-quality data integration, analysis, and visualization in the upper Mississippi River basin in real time using data-enabled information technologies. CEA’s evaluation aims to document project progress and gather information that can be used to improve the system and understand the project’s impact and outcomes.

NSF-REU: Interdisciplinary Geospatial Approaches to Watershed Science

Funded by the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates, the project aims to prepare undergraduate students for complex problem-solving and interdisciplinary research by providing opportunities to engage in research on the sustainable provision of clean water and food in a Midwest agricultural watershed. CEA’s role is to conduct pre-program, post-program, and follow-up surveys to understand the program’s impact on students’ knowledge and skills relevant to the program, and collaborate with program staff and faculty to translate evaluation findings into action. 

US DHHS, CDC: Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest

The Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest (HWC) is a regional center funded by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Its mission is to protect and preserve worker safety and health through knowledge generation and dissemination of evidence-based Total Worker Health practices. The HWC conducts basic and applied research and partners with other regional occupational safety and health organizations and academic institutions to generate, evaluate, and engage in outreach and education activities aimed at equipping businesses to improve employee health and safety outcomes. In their evaluation of the HWC, the CEA focuses on documenting the reach and impact of the center’s outreach and educational materials, as well as gathering feedback from their partners that the HWC leadership and staff can use to make improvements to their practices and services.

Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council

The CEA collaborates annually with the Governor's STEM Advisory Council to evaluate Iowa’s K-12 STEM initiatives. The CEA's role includes offering a sustainable model for the data collection, maintenance, and analysis of high school STEM Program impact on participants. These data can be used to inform the Governor's STEM Advisory Council and other stakeholders on the progress toward making Iowa a national STEM leader.

21st Century Community Learning Centers

The purpose of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) project is to provide academic enrichment opportunities before and after school and in the summer. The CEA provides evaluation services to the Iowa City Community School District and the Oelwein Community School District to determine effective strategies and to inform program improvement and document outcomes.

Summer Health Professions Education Program

This University of Iowa program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is a six-week summer enrichment programs focused on improving access to information and resources for undergraduate students interested in health professional careers, and is hosted by the University of Iowa Health Sciences College. The CEA collaborates with the program staff and faculty to gather information about the value of the program to the students’ professional and personal development, as well as areas for program improvements.

Iowa DNR REAP: School of the Wild

Each year over 1200 Iowa students participate in the University of Iowa School of the Wild, where they explore the outdoors in small groups with experienced naturalists and teachers. The CEA conducts evaluation services for the School of the Wild for their grant with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Evaluations include surveys of K-12 teachers who participate in professional development training, and surveys of students who attend the School of the Wild.

Past Projects

CEA has been providing evaluation services since 1992. Below, we highlight some of these past projects:

PK12 Education Program Evaluations

English Language Learners in Iowa: Data Collection Methodology Development Project

The CEA collaborated with the Iowa Department of Education and ten Iowa school districts with high density ELL populations to develop a methodology to describe how ELL education is delivered in Iowa. Beginning with on-site, in-depth data collection, the CEA created a methodology for distance data collection, ultimately to be carried out by the districts themselves, resulting in an actionable agenda to provide others with information about their ELL programming and guide improvements in their programs.

Iowa Teacher Quality Partnership

The Iowa Teacher Quality Partnership project (TQP), funded by the US Department of Education, was a five-year project whose mission was to boost achievement of Iowa PK-12 students by developing and retaining highly effective teachers. CEA’s evaluation focused on monitoring and examining the effects of programming at the University of Northern Iowa's College of Education and in nine rural school district partners.

Assessment for Learning

This project focused on the implementation of a state-wide school improvement policy. Three Iowa schools piloted the Assessment for Learning training modules developed by the Iowa Department of Education. The project provided in-services, classroom observations, and other support to the participating school districts, as requested by the district administrators. CEA staff gathered data on the effectiveness of the modules and sent updates regularly to the Iowa Department of Education to help modify and evaluate the existing modules.

Post-Secondary Education Program Evaluations

NIH T32: Science Communication for the Digital Age

This project was funded by the National Institute for Health (NIH) to support the development and implementation of a graduate level course to teach biomedical research students how to more effectively communicate their research to broader audiences using innovative communication technologies and techniques. The CEA provided an evaluation compiling information from students and the teaching team to demonstrate the impact of the course to the NIH and inform improvements for future course offerings.

NIH: Iowa Biosciences Academy

Funded by the National Institute of Health, the Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA) identified academically talented undergraduate students from underrepresented minority groups and provided mentoring and training with the eventual goal of successful entry into doctoral programs in the areas of biomedical, behavioral, or biophysical sciences. CEA designed and implemented a multifaceted evaluation plan to improve and maintain the project as well as document project outcomes for accountability purposes and reporting of benchmarks and progress.

Teachers & Leaders Program Evaluations

Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders

This project  was designed as a performance assessment for candidates to demonstrate and apply their leadership knowledge and skills by setting direction, creating a professional learning culture among staff, supporting individual teacher development, and engaging families and community in improving student learning. MA-PAL consisted of four performance assessment tasks that reflected the authentic work of school leaders. The tasks were developed in collaboration with Massachusetts educational leaders, pathway faculty and state officials and were intended to be completed as part of a preparation pathway. CEA worked with the Massachusetts Department of Education, Bank Street College, and the MA-PAL Development Team to design, pilot, and validate the MA-PAL.

Other Project Evaluations

Evaluation of Mental Health First Aid Training Initiative for Pharmacy

This project was a collaboration between researchers in the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, the Iowa Pharmacy Association, and CEA to capture participant attitudes and experiences with Mental Health First Aid training for pharmacy professionals. The goal of the project was to capture formative and outcome information to share with the Iowa Pharmacy Association to inform how they deliver future trainings. CEA supported the development of the survey and conducted the analysis that informed this effort.