Case Study Analyses of Royal Roads Student Research

Royal Roads University (RRU) has a mission to teach and create research that contributes to transformation; transformation in our students and transformation in the world. The research model, which is solution-oriented and real-world focused, strongly complements and is supported by an interdisciplinary curriculum and organization. Guided by the University’s strategic research themes – learning and innovation, thriving organizations, as well as sustainable societies and communities – RRU research aims to produce relevant knowledge that responds to problems across scales. Low disciplinary boundaries, strong blended academic and professional experience, linkages among faculty and students, as well as a deliberate focus on solution-oriented research, situates RRU well to address real-world problems.

The Royal Roads University mission states:

“We are leaders and partners creating an enduring prosperity. Transformation in career and life results from our teaching and research applied to solve problems and create opportunities in the world.”

The Learning Teaching and research Model is used to guide university practice that contributes to achieving the Royal Roads University mission. It is necessary to know more about current practice, and specifically about whether and how graduate research at the university contributes to change. More work is needed to improve our theoretical and empirical understanding of the means and mechanisms by which research contributes to change processes, and about how to design and implement research to be more effective in a higher education context.

Purpose: To improve the way universities teach and support problem-focused research.

Questions: To what extent do Royal Roads University graduate research projects contribute to social change? What are the main impact pathways?


Phase 1. The project began with a classification of completed Royal Roads project abstracts to determine whether there was an intention to create change and documentation of the steps to achieve it. Full documents of abstracts determined to have an explicit or implicit impact pathway were reviewed and scored using the Transdisciplinary Research Quality Assessment Framework developed in “Defining and Assessing Research in a Transdisciplinary Context“.

Phase 2 (in progress). We will begin by purposively selecting promising completed projects based on the likelihood that they have achieved outcomes. We will then document the Theory of Change in collaboration with graduates, identify data needs and sources to test the Theory of Change, conduct document reviews, interviews and/or focus group meetings to collect data to support or challenge key steps in the Theory of Change to learn about other changes and mechanisms.


Phase 1. A series of actionable items were channeled through the Interdisciplinary Studies Research Committee to inform RRU’s Learning Teaching and research Model.

Download Chapter 14 of the Learning Teaching and research Model.