Center for Social Research

Volunteer now: See colors and spot churches

Volunteers are needed to visit rural areas this fall to help finish a congregational census of Kent County.

Sign up for training, then cover a part of the county in late September and early October. About ten pairs of volunteers can finish the job in under a week.

Training:  Saturday, September 23, 9am - 12pm at Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus. Read more below to RSVP.

Photo of covered bridge at Fallasburg Park in fall

Drive all over a part of rural Kent County and document the churches you find.

Approaching the covered bridge at Fallasburg Park in northeast Kent County, October 2005.

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Posted by Neil Carlson on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 10:54 PM
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A new paradigm for a new year

Greetings, colleagues! For 2006-2007, the Center for Social Research is moving to a new project management footing, of which this brand new weblog is a part. We are working to place new emphasis on our primary mission:  helping Calvin faculty improve our academic research in the social sciences. CSR’s support for community service organizations, the Christian Reformed Church, and Calvin administrative departments will not end, but we are working hard to emphasize faculty research as the organizing principle for these other CSR functions, which are after all part of our entire institution’s mission, not CSR’s alone. This note is primarily about the ongoing expansion of our high-tech research-support infrastructure. Read on to see a few of the steps we are taking…

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Posted by Neil Carlson on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 11:09 AM
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Cherry Street: Tracking Low-Cost Medicines for Low-Income Citizens

In January 2006, Calvin computer science major Mark Van Holstyn, then a junior, along with CSR Assistant Director Neil Carlson, completed the initial stage of design and deployment of a new web-based database application and research tool for Cherry Street Health Services, a non-profit health system with nine clinics serving low-income children and families in the Grand Rapids area. The web application streamlines Cherry Street’s service to help patients apply for low-cost or free medications from pharmaceutical companies. The program has been running well for over eight months now, with minimal need for training or support. CSR’s work greatly improved accessibility from remote sites, reliability and data quality, including a centrally managed drug formulary, list of physicians and strong user security. The new system also tracks health outcomes so as to facilitate research and program evaluation in the future. CSR was connected to this project through Dr. Fred DeJong, who is completing a contract for evaluation of Cherry Street’s role as lead agency in a major federal grant for Grand Rapids area health care.

Posted by Neil Carlson on Monday, August 14, 2006 at 10:10 PM
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New Alumni Assessment Survey completed

In May 2006, the Center launched a new and improved survey of recent Calvin alumni to improve assessment of Calvin departments and academic programs. The survey data was collected entirely through the Internet, reducing costs and facilitating the consolidation of custom materials from twelve academic departments and several campus administrative offices. Over 2,000 alumni from the 2002 and 2005 graduating classes and their cohorts were contacted by email and postcard; by late July, 663 alumni had responded (a respectable response rate for Internet-only collection). Two alumni won vouchers for free air travel. As this approach is replicated in coming years, it will enable better analytical comparisons, reduce the load on departments to conduct their own surveys AND reduce the demand on alumni, who might previously have received two or more surveys from Calvin in place of this one. Reports will be distributed to departments in September, with coordination by lead client Jim Bradley, Calvin’s Director of Assessment and Institutional Research.

Posted by Neil Carlson on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 at 10:53 PM
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PALS Teens

CSR is supporting psychology professor Marjorie Gunnoe in her collaboration with the University of Notre Dame to launch an adolescent component to the Portraits of American Life Study (PALS), a major long-term study of the social and religious traits of several thousand randomly-sampled American households. Prof. Gunnoe’s survey instrument includes an innovative new scale for measuring the nature of parent-teen relationships, which was refined through pilot surveys with Calvin Psychology 151 students in the fall of 2004 and fall 2005. The survey also includes an investigation of teens’ perceptions of religious worship practices designed by Calvin’s new Provost, Claudia Beversluis, who is also a professor of psychology at Calvin.

Posted by Neil Carlson on Thursday, June 01, 2006 at 10:05 PM
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