Utility of the Community Scholar Identity through the Eyes of Students
It is recognized that evidence on the social situation of disabled people that could inform policy and other discourses impacting disabled people is missing. Disabled people, and community members linked to disabled people, can contribute to generate the missing evidence. Various barriers exist for community members to perform research; one barrier being that many community members and undergraduate students that work in the community after they graduate do not see themselves as researchers. It has been proposed that the term “Community Scholar” used with the meaning that the community member is the scholar could be used to instill a research identity into community members and into undergraduate students that plan to work in the community after graduation. Obtaining the view of students of one community rehabilitation and disability studies academic program using an online survey revealed that participants had never heard of the concept of “Community Scholar” but that participants did see the “Community Scholar” identity to be of use for themselves such as their career and the community they plan to work in and with after graduation. Having been exposed to the “Community Scholar” identity would have enticed participants to seek out research training and to see themselves performing research as part of their community employment after graduation, something they did not do before the survey. Our findings indicate that the “Community Scholar” identity might be a useful tool to increase the interest in being a community researcher within community members and undergraduate students that work in the community after graduation. Our study suggests that research might be warranted to obtain the views of students from other Universities and degree programs on the concept of “Community Scholar”, to investigate barriers to being a “Community Scholar” and to think about teaching potential “Community Scholars” how to perform research.
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