ARRT Inclusive Technology and Policy Design Research Fellowships - Program Description

The ARRT Policy Research Fellows program at Georgia Tech is designed to facilitate the improvement of health and function, community participation, education, and employment outcomes of people with disabilities through advanced training in policy research within two of NIDILRR’s domains: community participation and employment, as well as the cross-cutting focus on technology for access and function, which supports positive outcomes for people with disabilities in these domains. The purpose of this ARRT program is to provide advanced policy-oriented research, training, and experience to individuals with doctorates, or similar advanced degrees, who have clinical or other relevant experience.

The training approach for the Research Policy Fellows follows an evidence-based (empirical) policy model that focuses on linking a set of policy related elements – tools, analytic approach, contextual analysis, and output development and dissemination, which can be applied to the specific professional training and interests of the research fellows. In this regard, the technical expertise of the research fellows can be utilized in a way that places substantive, technical and professional content into policy outputs that serve to inform policymakers, advocate, regulators, and other consumers of policy outputs. This approach has been employed successfully with CACP policy projects and the associated Wireless RERC for four grant cycles, and has been recognized in numerous regulatory and policy documents.


Methods of Training

The training approach consists of a core program that builds on the key foundational policy elements presented in formal and informal instructional settings with practical experience in conducting analytic social science and policy research that provides a robust foundation for the generation of policy outputs. The program consists of the following components:

Classroom and Formal Instruction (3-5 hours/week): Participation in the Applied Disability Research Policy Methods Seminar, participation in Center activities, identification of a pertinent policy issue and development of a proposal to conduct policy research to inform public policy solutions.

Didactic Training and Policy Process Mentorship (3-5 hours/week): Fellows meet weekly with mentors and participate in project-focused meetings with other fellows and their mentors. Topics for discussion include: application of baseline assessments and stakeholder analysis in issue identification, development of individual research training proposals, review of progress, and career planning. Problem solving related to research projects, identifying resources, successful grant writing, and manuscript preparation, and output dissemination tools will also be discussed.

Individual, group, or project-focused meetings could also address special topics (e.g., multimodal methods, triangulation, application of different policy products, techniques for dealing with data collection, effectively recruiting research participants).

Proposal Development and Grant Writing (4-6 hours/week): Center staff will provide guidance in the process for planning independent research, seeking support funds, and successfully completing and submitting research proposals and grant applications.

Independent Research Projects (8-16 hours/week): ARRT Fellows will identify a key issue or policy problem, and propose, design, and implement research projects, including preparing manuscripts for publication and presentation at scientific meetings, and use of dissemination channels, including innovative multimedia applications.

Collaborative Research (10-12 hours/week): Participation, development, and implementation of projects, both internal to the unit or institution-wide, for which fellows take a secondary, supporting role, including 1) preparing manuscripts for publication and presentation at professional meetings, 2) policy documents and regulatory filings submitted to appropriate agencies and organizations.


Programmatic Components

The program includes a yearly semester-long Applied Disability Research Policy Methods Seminar (offered as PUBP 8813 in the School of Public Policy), as well opportunities to participate in a wide range of Georgia Tech courses, seminars and workshops which provide opportunity and exposure to multi-disciplinary teams. The foundational seminar provides an overview of the policymaking process as it pertains to disability and to train fellows in the application of qualitative and quantitative research methods to policy design and development, as well as the opportunity to work with other graduate students in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy. Additional programmatic elements include participation in ongoing policy research projects at CACP and associated unit (Year 1), and subsequently, with other institutions as appropriate. Participation in the seminar is in both years, with the first year focused on mastery of the key analytic methods for policy research, and the second year focused on tools related to leading research teams (with new students), and production and dissemination techniques for outputs of policy research.

The key focus of the second year is the identification of a significant policy problem of interest to the research fellow, and in conjunction with a target agency or organization, development of an independent research project that will result in the production of a major policy output (e.g. policy analysis, regulatory filling, position paper, etc.) presented to the collaborating policy-oriented entity. Project resources provide the opportunity for fellows to engage in at least one national conference per year, for a total of two conferences, as well as ongoing networking and career development activities.

Didactic training in methods will focus on: 1) diverse contextual and baseline assessment methods, 2) stakeholder and community-based research approaches designed to capture community, workplace and employment, as well as associated social and situational contextual factors, 3) regulatory and policy analysis, and 4) communication, outreach and dissemination methods including social network analysis, social media usage and targeted translational activities.

Fellows will acquire knowledge and expertise in key components of policy research and analysis including issue identification, stakeholder assessment, barrier and opportunity analysis, and policy- related solutions to address identified issues. Additional training will address community-based research aimed at improving community living, employment and workplace participation. They will acquire advanced research skills, learn how to engage with stakeholders through all phases of research, collaborate effectively with partners while demonstrating competencies, and communicate the results of research to enhance the participation and engagement of people with disabilities in community living, participation, and employment.

The Advanced Rehabilitation Research and Training (ARRT): Inclusive Technology and Policy Design Research Fellowships project was developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90ARPO0002). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.