Original Research

Well-being innovation platform projects of the North-West University: Evaluative perceptions of community participants

Lebogang Sebeco, Johan Zaaiman
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 17, No 1 | a950 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v17i1.950 | © 2021 Lebogang Sebeco, Johan Zaaiman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 September 2020 | Published: 28 April 2021

About the author(s)

Lebogang Sebeco, Quantify Research (Pty) Ltd, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Johan Zaaiman, School of Social Studies, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Community engagement referred to approaches in which communities were involved in activities that positively impacted their lives. Currently, higher education institutions have community engagement high on their agenda. This article focussed on how this engagement ought to be managed through the responses of community members to such an intervention. It presented community members’ evaluative perceptions on the North-West University’s (NWU) well-being innovation (WIN) platform projects in the Vaalharts community. This research was qualitative and a case study design was followed. Through interviews and focus groups, the perceptions of participants of the WIN platform projects were obtained. The data used stemmed from empirical research by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the researchers. Although this study could reach only a limited number of project participants, they provided valuable insights into the ways they had experienced the projects. Guided by the Context–Focus–Profile model, a comprehensive evaluation framework was constructed for the interview and focus groups’ schedules. The findings indicated that the community members had positive perceptions of the projects, which had contributed most especially to skills and self-development. However, as members of a poor community, such people are vulnerable. To ensure that they feel respected and that projects fit their needs to ensure long-lasting benefits, the way in which community engagement was conducted was important. Recommendations for improvement emerging from this study focussed on collaboration, communication, monitoring and recruitment. This article thereby contributed to the debate about higher education institutions’ involvement in community engagement and demonstrated the value of using the Context–Focus–Profile model for evaluation purposes.

Keywords

igher education institutions; North-West University; community engagement; collaboration; Vaalharts; WIN platform projects; Context–Focus–Profile model; silo, intersectional and infusion models.

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