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Using Critical Research Approaches to Teach Students About Nonprofit Organizations: A Case Examination

Lauren Willner, Douglas Barrera


This paper presents a case example highlighting a community-based undergraduate research program designed and implemented through the lens of critical research approaches. While the primary purpose of the research program was to provide students with an intensive opportunity to design and conduct in research in collaboration with a community-based nonprofit organizational, the case demonstrates that when the high-impact educational practice of undergraduate research is implemented with attention towards teaching critical research approaches, students acquire knowledge and skills beyond that of the anticipated learning outcomes. Specifically emphasized are the unintended student learning outcomes of knowledge and skill development related to nonprofit organizational structure and function. Further, the case provides support for the utilization of undergraduate research programs to effectively augment traditional classroom education within undergraduate nonprofit and philanthropic studies.

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High-impact practices; nonprofit studies; critical research

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