UW Bothell celebrates community partners

Yaqoob Zakaria
Yaqoob Zakaria. Marc Studer photo

In a data visualization class at the University of Washington Bothell, Yaqoob Zakaria felt the impact of working with real survey information for the Edmonds School District. He also had an emotional attachment because he grew up in Edmonds and went to the district’s public schools.

“I felt more invested, and I wanted to do better work because of that,” said Zakaria, a Law, Economics & Public Policy major who graduated in June. “I stayed up late at night trying to find creative ways to show the data.”

The data analysis by Zakaria and classmates has also been meaningful for the district, said two officials, Sally Guzman, family and community engagement coordinator; and Brandon Lagerquist, director of assessment, research and evaluation. Lagerquist said they sometimes feel too close to the numbers.

“Helping us back up and see the big picture and understand what the data is trying to tell us has been extremely helpful,” said Lagerquist.

Recognition and appreciation

Telling their story. Marc Studer photo

Zakaria, Guzman and Lagerquist told the story of their collaboration at the UW Bothell community partner recognition luncheon June 12 in the Activities & Recreation Center. The Edmonds officials were among about 120 people representing more than 70 businesses and organizations that collaborate with students, faculty and staff to support learning and research. They work through the Office of Community Based Learning and Research and other units on campus as well.

The Edmonds district regularly surveys families, asking an array of questions about school climate, access, resources and communications. Through take-home and online surveys and at events, the district has a 45% response rate, said Guzman. That’s a lot of data.

For the past four quarters, UW Bothell data visualization students — about 100 in all — analyzed all the information and pointed out trends.

Building relationships

Sally Guzman, Yaqoob Zakaria, Brandon Lagerquist. Cameron Locke photo

“Over the past year, students have created hundreds of visualizations of the data, from which Sally and I glean as much information as we can, a huge timesaver for us,” Lagerquist said. “Better data, more data, stronger data mean we have more tools to take action to create better relationships with our families and the larger communities in our school district.”

Baaska Anderson, a lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, taught the class that included Zakaria. The students used software from Tableau, a Seattle-based company that makes raw data more understandable through visual displays.

The school district is looking forward to more insights from the data visualization project in the future, Guzman and Lagerquist said.

Long-term collaborations

The relationship with the Edmonds School District is just one of many impactful collaborations for UW Bothell students. Kara Adams, director of community engagement, acknowledged 10 partnerships of five years or more for special recognition:

  • Alliance for Community Media;
  • Coding with Kids;
  • Downtown Emergency Service Center;
  • Full Life Care;
  • Henry M. Jackson High School, AVID;
  • Maywood Hills Elementary;
  • Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center;
  • Snohomish Medical Reserve Corps, Snohomish Health District;
  • Voyager Middle School; and
  • Youth Tutoring Program.

Community engagement is one of UW Bothell’s core values, to foster productive relationships with employers and promote a strong public service commitment.

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