An evaluation of the Fellowships was carried out in October and November 2005.
The method used involved semi-structured interviews to explore specific areas and themes with the Fellowship holders, and also to capture deeper and more nuanced information about processes that have influenced development and implementation of the project and associated learning. Notes were taken at these interviews by two people and then combined as a transcribed set of notes. Notes have been sent to each interviewed fellowship holder to verify the contents and to seek permission to draw from these notes. Many of the interviewees took this opportunity to make small corrections and to add to what had been said, while others said that they were comfortable with the way the conversations had been reported.
The semi-structured interviews covered questions on:
- Publicity and awareness of the Fellowship Program
- Application process
- Participation and partnerships
- Personal learning and reflection
- Measures of community sustainability, community-building and regional development
- Research themes and areas of interest in the region
A number of significant outcomes resulted from the community and community-university partnerships established by the funded research. Key outcomes identified by the participants were:
- That the research projects supported learning-and-growing outcomes for all involved
- That new learnings in research methodologies and technical knowledge in their areas of research were acquired
- That researchers’ own skill bases improved in a number of areas such as; communication, team work, presentation, media
- That new and effective community networks and local government linkages were established
- That there were increased levels of community engagement in their local areas consequent to the research
- That they had received support and encouragement from RMIT Hamilton and RMIT Melbourne staff and the community
- That they had acquired a greater awareness of the complexity of local existing and emergent trends and responses
- That they had acquired a deeper understanding of the complexity of local community issues and the responsibilities to engage in a broader way within and outside the region.