Partnership-Based Approaches in Rural Education Research

  • Gina M. KunzEmail author
  • Pamela Buffington
  • Charles P. Schroeder
  • Ronnie Green
  • Robert Mahaffey
  • Jennifer Widner
  • Michelle Howell Smith
  • Mary Hellwege


This chapter represents multiple perspectives of collaboration suggested by conference participants of the Connect-Inform-Advance: 2013 Conference on Rural Education Research (C-I-A), sponsored by the National Center for Research on Rural Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Conference participants endorsed effective partnership-based approaches in rural education research including multiple perspectives of rural education research, practice, policy and community. The consensus from C-I-A conference participants was that partnership-based approaches provide a unique and valuable approach to conducting the complete cycle of rural education research (e.g., development, conduction and dissemination). Participant-authors of this chapter represent key stakeholder groups identified by conference participants of rural education research, practice, policy and community. A primary data source included participant-authors’ shared experiences in rural education research, perspectives on developing, maintaining partnerships, and suggestions for future directions. Another source comes from findings related to multiple perspective partnerships in rural educational research emerging from a qualitative analysis of participant responses in the roundtable discussions conducted during the C-I-A conference (findings presented in Chapter “ Multidisciplinary Perspectives to Advance Rural Education Research” of this book). A third source is literature relevant to partnership-based approaches to rural education research. Participant-authors’ perspectives, conference participants’ consensus and relevant literature were triangulated in identifying the themes presented in this chapter.


Rural education research partnerships Rural education partnerships Rural partnerships Research and practice Rural research and practice partnerships Research and practice partnerships Rural education research Rural research 



We thank Dr. Jeanne Surface, a professional colleague at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, for her collaborative contributions to the community aspect of partnership-based approaches articulated in this manuscript. Production of this manuscript was supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (Grant #: R305C090022).


  1. Alber, S. R., & Nelson, J. S. (2002). Putting research in the collaborative hands of teachers and researchers: An alternative to traditional staff development. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 21, 24–30.Google Scholar
  2. Barton, R., Nelsestuen, K., & Mazzeo, C. (2014). Addressing the challenges of building and maintaining effective research partnerships. Lessons Learned, 4(1), 1–6. Retrieved from
  3. Bauch, P. A. (2001). Reexamining relations and a sense of place between schools and their constituents. Peabody Journal of Education, 76, 204–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, L. D., Alter, T. R., Brown, L. G., Corbin, M. A., Flaherty-Craig, C., McPhail, L. G., et al. (2013). Rural Embedded Assistants for Community Health (REACH) network: First-person accounts in a community-university partnership. American Journal of Community Psychology, 51, 206–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coburn, C. E., Penuel, W. R., & Geil, K. E. (2013). Research-practice partnerships at the district level: A strategy for leveraging research for educational improvement in school districts. New York, NY: William T. Grant Foundation. Retrieved from
  6. Davis, M. M., Aromaa, S., McGinnis, P. B., Ramsey, K., Rollins, N., Smith, J., et al. (2014). Engaging the underserved: A process model to mobilize rural community health coalitions as partners in translational research. Clinical and Translational Science, 7, 300–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Downey, L. H., Castellanos, D. G., Yadrick, K., Avis-Williams, A., Graham-Kresge, S., & Bogle, M. (2011). Perceptions of community-based participatory research in the Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative: An academic perspective. Health Promotion Practice, 12, 744–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ebersöhn, L., Loots, T., Eloff, I., & Ferreira, R. (2015). Taking note of obstacles research partners negotiate in long-term higher education community engagement partnerships. Teaching and Teacher Education, 45, 59–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ferman, B., & Hill, T. L. (2004). The challenges of agenda conflict in higher-education-community research partnerships: Views from the community side. Journal of Urban Affairs, 26, 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Israel, B. A., Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. (1998). Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health, 19, 173–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kennedy, B. M., Prewitt, T. E., McCabe-Sellers, B., Strickland, E., Yadrick, K., Threadgill, P., et al. (2011). Academic partnerships and key leaders emerging from communities in the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD): A community-based participatory research model. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 18, 90–94.Google Scholar
  12. Kilpatrick, S., Johns, S., Mulford, B., Falk, I., & Prescott, L. (2002). More than an education: Leadership for rural school–community partnerships (RIRDC Publication No. 02/055). Retrieved from
  13. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Minkler, M., & Wallerstein, N. (Eds.). (2008). Community-based participatory research for health: From process to outcomes (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Minner, D. D., & Hiles, E. (2005). Rural school–community partnerships: The case of science education. Issues in Teacher Education, 14, 81–94.Google Scholar
  16. Plano Clark, V. L., & Creswell, J. W. (Eds.). (2014). Understanding research: A consumer's guide (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Google Scholar
  17. Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  18. Spoth, R. (2007). Opportunities to meet challenges in rural prevention research: Findings from an evolving community-university partnership model. The Journal of Rural Health, 23(s1), 42–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tseng, V. (2011). Forging common ground. In 2012 Annual Report (pp. 18–25). William T. Grant Foundation.Google Scholar
  20. Tseng, V. (2012a). Improving the connections between research and practice. New York, NY: William T. Grant Foundation. Retrieved from
  21. Tseng, V. (2012b). Partnerships: Shifting the dynamics between research and practice. New York, NY: William T. Grant Foundation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gina M. Kunz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pamela Buffington
    • 2
  • Charles P. Schroeder
    • 3
  • Ronnie Green
    • 4
  • Robert Mahaffey
    • 5
  • Jennifer Widner
    • 6
    • 7
  • Michelle Howell Smith
    • 1
  • Mary Hellwege
    • 1
  1. 1.National Center for Research on Rural Education, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and SchoolsUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Education Development Center, Inc.GardinerUSA
  3. 3.Rural Futures InstituteUniversity of NebraskaLincolnUSA
  4. 4.University of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  5. 5.The Rural School and Community Trust Organizations Concerned about EducationWashington, D.C.USA
  6. 6.O’Neill Elementary SchoolO’NeillUSA
  7. 7.Wayne State CollegeWayneUSA

Personalised recommendations