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The Social Impact Metrics Lab (SIMLab) at Utah Valley University hires student research assistants to carry out faculty-mentored evaluations of the social impact of programs conducted by local, domestic and international community organizations, with first preference given to non-profits.

Together with our partners, we implement effective project monitoring and data collection arrangements, and tailor our practice to their needs. As a result, we help our partners gather the evidence they need to improve and expand their activities.

Applications are now open for student research assistants. Please apply using the button below. 

Student research assistant application

Research Methodologies

We train our students on state-of-the-art qualitative, quantitative and “mixed methods” methodologies that are either best practice or have been developed in-house.

Qualitative

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Qualitative methods include various forms of interviews (individual interviews, focus groups, case studies, etc.), observations and document analyses.

Quantitative

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Quantitative methods include measurements, counting, analysis of quantitative secondary data (for example, from statistical reports), surveys, tests, and structured observations. Quantitative analysis estimates the magnitude and the distribution of the impacts of an intervention, as well as its costs and benefits.

Mixed Methods

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The more angles from which you evaluate your program, the more significant your understanding will be. For this reason, it makes sense to combine various data sources and data-collection methods - quantitative and qualitative alike.

SIMLab Process

Student researchers go through the following process to access program impact. Partners are responsible for implementing SIMLab findings and continuing to assess and adjust their programming to improve impact.

simlab process

Projects

Machine Learning & Social Impact Workshop

Project Lead: Andre Oliveira

This workshop introduces students to the fields of Machine Learning and Social Impact Measurement. The goal is to equip them with a working knowledge of concepts and tools that can be used to assess the social effects of programs carried out by governments, businesses, NGOs and other institutions.

Machine Learning and Social Impact Workshop.pdf

Eleven students completed the first workshop. Materials used can be found below. 

 

ScenicView Academy

Project Lead: Andre Oliveira

Evaluation of the effects of neurofeedback therapy on the academic performance of young adults with autism and learning disabilities.

Report ScenicView 8-18-20.pdf

UVU Advising

Project Lead: Andre Oliveira

Investigation of the impact of academic advising on grades, retention and graduation indicators of UVU students using data provided by UVU's Institutional Research and University Advising.

Report Advising 2018-19.pdf

Business Social Impact

Project Lead: Andre Oliveira

Review of the main frameworks and best practices associated with corporate social responsibility, discussion of methodological issues, and identification of potential projects with local businesses.

UVU Corporate Social Impact Report 8-30-21.pdf

Social Impact Analysis Primer

Project Lead: Andre Oliveira

Workshop for UVU faculty and students where quantitative methods to measure the impact of interventions that cause social changes are discussed. The material for the workshop is contained in a primer written by the SIMLab team. The primer is updated on a regular basis.

SI primer final.pdf

Measurement of the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (HDI) for Utah Counties

Project Lead: Dr. Maritza Sotomayor

Research Assistant: Parker Howell

The Human Development Index (HDI) is an alternative indicator of the GDP created by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1990 to measure a country's overall degree of development. While the GDP per capita has been considered the metric for comparing economic performance, the HDI includes income along with health and education as the three dimensions that represent a population's well-being. In 2010, the UNDP added the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI) to account for inequality that could exist in the distribution of each dimension. While there are calculations of the HDI at the state level for the United States, the IHDI has not been calculated at state or county levels. This project measures several indicators following the UNDP methodology: the IHDI for the 50 states, the HDI, IHDI, and the Gender Development Index (GDI) for Utah counties for 2014 and 2019. We compare HDI and IHDI to estimate the loss due to inequality since the difference will give a better portrait of the state of human development for Utah counties. We create visualizations through maps, charts, and figures for easy access to the indicators by county for the three dimensions of HDI, IHDI, and GDI. Our results can be helpful to identify areas where there is a need for more state and federal spending that brings prosperity and improves the social well-being of the Utah population.

Human Development Index Website

Spring 2021 Organizational Development and Change: Utah Lake Project

Project Lead: Dr. Jonathan Westover

These student projects are part of a 3-year National Science Foundation grant titled, "Undergraduate Preparation through Multidisciplinary Service-Learning at Utah Lake." In September 2020, UVU professors Dr. Eddy Cadet, Dr. Weihong Wang, Dr. Jon Westover, Dr. Hilary Hungerford, and Dr. Maria Blevins were awarded a $350,000 grant by the National Science Foundation for a special 3-year project with Utah Lake, titled "Undergraduate Preparation through Multidisciplinary Service-Learning at Utah Lake." This grant includes class projects in each of the professors' courses during the academic year, as well as projects from an interdisciplinary team of summer research assistants each year. During the NSF service project, students are involved with the community while gaining professional skills, increasing access to professional networks, and deepening students' knowledge of career pathways.

Research artifacts can be found at the following links:

Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

Team 5

Team 6

Summer 2021 Organizational Development and Change: Utah Lake Project

Project Lead: Dr. Jonathan Westover

These student projects are part of a 3-year National Science Foundation grant titled, "Undergraduate Preparation through Multidisciplinary Service-Learning at Utah Lake." In September 2020, UVU professors Dr. Eddy Cadet, Dr. Weihong Wang, Dr. Jon Westover, Dr. Hilary Hungerford, and Dr. Maria Blevins were awarded a $350,000 grant by the National Science Foundation for a special 3-year project with Utah Lake, titled "Undergraduate Preparation through Multidisciplinary Service-Learning at Utah Lake." This grant includes class projects in each of the professors' courses during the academic year, as well as projects from an interdisciplinary team of summer research assistants each year. During the NSF service project, students are involved with the community while gaining professional skills, increasing access to professional networks, and deepening students' knowledge of career pathways.

Research artifacts can be found at the following links:

Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

Contact Us

The SIMLab was created by Dr. Andre Oliveira and Dr. Ronald Miller, the UVU 2018-2020
Social Impact Fellows, and is sponsored by Academic Service-Learning and the Center for Social Impact.

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Interested in Partnering with the Simlab

Tell us about your organization and its social impact metrics needs and we'll be in touch about a possible partnership. New project proposals can be submitted at any time. Projects are typically identified and selected prior to the start of each academic semester.

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