Activity 2018 Impact Assessment - Future Generations Scholarships, Consultations

24 September 2018
4 October 2018

In September and October 2018, members of the project team at the eScholarship Research Centre led consultations as part of a Joining the Dots Pilot Project. The project investigated the impact that the Future Generations Scholarships has had on the University of Melbourne's community. The consultations consisted of ten minute interviews with thirty-two recipients of the scholarship.


The central features of the Joining the Dots Pilot Project focused on consultations - involving the gathering of narratives of impact - and workshops for analysing these narratives. These substantive components were drawn from Dart and Davies (2003) Most Significant Change.

The first, consultative phase, involved brief (ten minute) interviews with recipients of Future Generations Scholarships. The answers to four questions created a series of stories. This process potentially allowed the project team to qualitatively track impact for every person involved in a program or activity (in this case, thirty-two interviews).

Joining the Dots Interview Process
To undertake this research, the scholarship award recipients (students and ex-students) were contacted by the research team. An initial correspondence outlining the project and its methodology was sent to all recipients. This further explained that they would be called in the following week to make a time for an interview. The University's phone number appears as a silent number on mobile phones, and although messages were left on all phones where possible, it is believed that this restricted the ability to contact some recipients. All recipients contacted were happy to participate, including some now living outside Australia. Overall, despite a comparatively light touch on the administration, and with great speed, the project team were able to interview twenty-five per cent of the total number.

Each recipient was interviewed by phone for approximately ten to fifteen minutes. They were asked a standard set of four questions based on the Most Significant Change process:

  • How did you come to be awarded the Future Generation Scholarship?
  • What, in your opinion, would you say is the most significant change that happened for you, as a result of receiving the Future Generations Scholarship?
  • Why was this significant for you?
  • What difference has it made, or will it make into the future?

  • These interviews were conducted by Dr Ani Wierenga and Dr Sue Silberberg, both of whom are experienced in interviewing using a variety of methodologies. The final question in particular was designed to elicit responses which extended beyond the award, attempting to guage what participants were passionate about, the difference they had already made, and where they see that going in the future.

    When answering the question on how they came to be awarded the scholarship, recipients provided a number of insights. For many it came as a surprise (including those who missed their notification, believing it to be junk mail). The scholarship appears to have targeted students with particular financial needs and some students were grateful that this had been recognised by the University. Similarly, the acknowledgement of academic prowess was also a feature that was commented upon and noted as very important.

    Having undertaken and transcribed the interviews, the project team sent them back to all participants, requesting that they check the transcript and confirm their content. During the interview process recipients were asked if the transcripts could be made public and this was again checked during the review process. Most scholars were happy to have their stories published, some required they be de-identified and a few requested they be kept private.

    Published Resources

    Online Resources

    • McCarthy, Gavan and Wierenda, Ani, 'Selected Stories of Impact', in The Joining the Dots and the University of Melbourne Perpetual Calendar 2018 Project, Pilot Project Report December 2018, 2018. Details