Action Research in Catholic Schools. With other colleagues in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at Notre Dame, Dr. Frabutt outlined the precepts behind a change-oriented approach to Catholic school revitalization: action research.  Action research provides a useful framework for classroom teachers and school administrators to make informed, data-based decisions in order to improve their practice.  Rooted in the context of community and driven by values of social justice and respect for the common good, practitioner-led research holds much promise for sustaining and strengthening Catholic schools.

Student Mental Health and Wellness in Catholic Schools. Schools must ensure that children are granted the greatest opportunity for learning possible. This means not only developing students’ academic capabilities, but providing support for their emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs as well. Within Catholic schools, the call for responsive action is especially clear, inspired by the example of Jesus in the Gospels and the ongoing vision of Catholic social teaching. In 2009, the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Mental Health and Wellness Survey sought to map the landscape of mental health services and supports in Catholic elementary and high schools. Across 12 dioceses, over 420 schools completed the survey. Several research briefs based on the study data are included below:

Patterns of Mental Health Staffing in Catholic Schools

Common Mental Health Issues Among Students

Greatest Professional Development Needs

Most Successful Strategies in Addressing Mental Health Needs

Mental Health Service Provision in Catholic Schools

Barriers to Providing Mental Health Services

Mental Health and Wellness: Discussion and Conclusion

"Supporting Students' Social-Emotional Wellness and Mental Health," presented at the National Catholic Educational Association's 2011 Annual Convention

Leadership Perspectives on Catholic School Mental Health and Wellness," poster presented at the 16th Annual School Mental Health Conference, Charleston, SC.


Community-Based Research and Evaluation.  Dr. Frabutt is interested in data-driven, strength-based approaches to carry out strategic problem-solving around social issues.  He has conducted numerous program evaluations that are grounded in a participatory, empowerment approach. These evaluations engage key stakeholders in evaluation design, analysis, and reporting of key findings. For example, for several years he served as principal investigator on a project designed to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) within the juvenile justice system in North Carolina.  That demonstration project was a multi-year effort that featured coalition building (among institutional and individual partners), strategic planning, issue definintion and awareness, data collection and assessment, intervention planning and implementation, and program evaluation.  The project is a prime example of a thoughtful melding of diverse data sources to heighten community capacity to problem-solve, implement strategic interventions, and thereby build social capital.

University-Community Partnerships. The nexus of community concerns and university research/outreach is a major research interest. Dr. Frabutt has explored the possibilites and challenges of the scholarship of engagement through collaborations with schools, the juvenile justice system, law enforcement agenices, and multiple social service providers. He has written and presented about engaging community members in research, the potential of university-based outreach centers, and the infusion of community voice into developmental research on children and families. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement and the Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education.

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In association with numerous collaborators, for nearly ten years Dr. Frabutt has examined the individual, family, school, and community-level factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency and violence. Using an ecological, community-based approach, he has been involved in ethnographic inteviews of court-involved youth and their caregivers, gang assessments, the implementation of school-based intervention programs, and community trainings to use data effectively.