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Research and Sponsored Programs

East Tennessee State University

Applied Social Research Laboratory

ASRL In the News

The Tennessee Poll Finds that “End-of-Life Choices” is an Emotionally Charged Topic Among Tennesseans. As California joins Oregon, Washington, and Vermont in legalizing physician-assisted death, the Tennessee Poll finds that a person’s “end-of-life choices” is an emotionally charged topic.

ETSU Tennessee Poll Release: Physician Assisted Death

The Tennessee Poll Finds that Tennesseans are Concerned about the Economy and Support Higher Education.  The first release in a series of releases finds that Tennesseans are concerned about the economy and cost of living and that they largely support higher education and Tennessee Promise. To read the press release, methodology statement, and extra data tables please click on the links below:

Press Release on the Tennessee Poll

Methodological Statement

Data Tables on Education by Demographics (will need excel to view)


About Us  

The Applied Social Research Laboratory (ASRL) located in Johnson City an initiative of the Center for Community Outreach and Applied Research.  Housed at ASRL is an 11-station Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing phone lab, facilities for conducting interviews and focus groups, and software and hardware to produce and process both web and paper based surveys. The ASRL has two primary functions: 1) to carry out telephone, web, or in-person surveys as well as focus group sessions for local or regional organizations and companies that desire high quality, accurate and representative research on citizens/consumers; and 2) to assist in the development of grant and contract programs that involve research or the evaluation of programs and services promulgated by government or non-profit organizations.

Part of what makes the ASRL unique is that it is fully integrated with the Masters of Sociology program at ETSU. This benefits ETSU students in that they get hands on experience planning and conducting research, assisting with data analysis, and working with ASRL faculty on report writing and presentations. It benefits those interested in working with ASRL because while the expertise and services offered by the ASRL are not free, contract fees for service are low, in part because of our mission to provide training and research experience to both undergraduate and graduate students at ETSU.

The ASRL is directed by Dr. Kelly Foster with oversight by ASRL Executive Director Dr. Scott Beck, and Dr. Leslie McCallister is a Senior Faculty Affiliate who has initiated and directed a number of the projects based at the ASRL. Ms. Morgan Jones is the Assistant Director who works with faculty to oversee the daily management of projects. Each faculty member associated with the ASRL offers a unique perspective and brings individual talents and experience to bear. In particular, faculty have extensive experience in community based research, evaluation research, government and non-profit work, public opinion polling, and community health research. For specific information on each faculty and staff member’s interests and experiences as well as their contact information, see below. 

Current Projects

City of Kingsport Tennessee. In 2017 Kingsport, TN will be celebrating their Centiennal. In advance of this important event, ASRL will be conducting surveys with Kingsport residents, as well as residents from around the Tri-Cities region to learn what they want from the downtown area, their ideas and perceptions of Kingsport, and the future direction of the community. ASRL will be partnering with Dr. Stephen Marshall and the Department of Mass Communication to provide Kingsport with a comprehensive plan.

United Way of Greater Kingsport. In the fall of 2016 ASRL will be collecting data with residents of Kingsport, TN to determine the needs of their community. This information will be used by UWGK to best allocate their resources in ways that will impact all members of the Kingsport community.

ETSU Diversity-Promoting Institutions Drug Abuse Research Program (DIDARP). ASRL will be working to support faculty in the College of Public Health and the College of Pharmacy in collecting data for the NIDA funded DIDARP program. This proejct will include mail, web, and telephone data collection.

Washington County Economic Development Council. ASRL conducted  the 2015-2016 Wage and Benefits study of Industry on behalf of the economic development councils for Washington, Carter, and Unicoi counties. This data will be used to provide businesses interested in the region with much needed information on the state of industry in this area.

The Tennessee Poll: The Tennessee Poll is a statewide public opinion poll intended to measure Tennesseans' opinions on matters of health, education, and quality of life in Tennessee. The first release of data on the Tennessee Poll will be released on October 26, 2015. Full methodological statement and data tables will be released.

ETSU Alumni Phonathon: The ETSU University Advancement office relies on ASRL each year to contact over 70,000 alumni! Each fall and spring we contact ETSU alumni to update their records for ETSU and also to fundraise. This is the single biggest personal alumni contact that ETSU makes each year!



Past Projects

Johnson City Police Department Targeted Community Crime Reduction Program Grant:  In the fall of 2012, Drs. McCallister and Foster were contracted to conduct a preliminary community needs assessment of certain areas of Johnson City. The results of this assessment were used by the Johnson City Police Department to prepare a grant application with the Office of Criminal Justice Programs. In February of 2013, JCPD was awarded the Targeted Community Crime Reduction Program grant which officially kicked-off in April of 2013. ASRL was chosen as the evaluators for this 3-year community grant. This project is a comprehensive evaluation which includes in-person interviews, surveys, phone calls, web surveying, focus groups, as well as qualitative documentation of change in the target areas by photographs.

Jonesborough Community Chest Community Needs Assessment: This project is taking a comprehensive look at the needs of residents and businesses in the Jonesborough community. Focus groups of residents and organizations are being used to create a survey that will go out to residents in order to see what needs are met and unmet in their community. The results of this CNA will help JCC to determine where to focus their efforts in the community.

Evaluation of Champions for Healthy Kids Grant with St. Mary's School: This evaluation includes surveys and focus groups with parents, students, and educators about the impact of nutrition and wellness programs offered as a result of the Champions for Health Kids Grant. 

United Way of Greater Kingsport Senior Connect: This project looks at the structure and function of the Senior Connect website in order to determine ways in which it can meet the needs of the community. Included in this project is community asset mapping, focus groups with seniors and caregivers, and a senior population survey.

Roan Mountain Public Sanitary Sewer Project:  ASRL is working in conjunction with Carter County Tomorrow to determine the support or opposition among residents for a public sanitary sewer system in the Roan Mountain Community. In the fall of 2014 we sent out a survey to all residents and property and business owners in the Roan Mountain area to gauge their opinions about a sewer system. Results will be released in spring 2015.

The United Way of Bristol Community Needs Assessment: Under the supervision of Dr. Foster, two Masters of Sociology students, Morgan Jones and Reagan Barbee, are working with the United Way of Bristol to conduct their comprehensive community needs assessment. In the fall of 2013, Ms. Jones and Ms. Barbee conducted focus groups to determine areas of concern among various community groups and Dr. Foster lead a community town hall to receive input from the community and make them aware of the upcoming needs assessment. The general population and business owner surveys were fielded in Spring 2014. Results will be released Fall 2014.


Faculty & Staff

Dr. Kelly Foster, Director
office. 423-439-4374
cell. 706-540-0449

Dr. Foster came to ETSU in 2012 from The University of Georgia where she spent 6.5 years specializing in survey research at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and 3 years focusing on health-related survey methodology at The College of Public Health. Her expertise is in research methodology, including survey research, questionnaire design, health-related survey methodology, and new technologies in research methodology. Dr. Foster served 2 years on the executive council for the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the leading organization for survey researchers in this country, and is past-president for the Southern chapter of AAPOR. Dr. Foster has worked extensively with local and state governments on public opinion polling and citizen engagement.

Dr. Scott Beck, Executive Director
office. 423-439-6067
cell. 423-557-4370 

Dr. Beck has over 30 years of experience in conducting research and statistical analysis. He has conducted evaluations of a pilot welfare program, a community development project, a Drug Court program, a GEAR UP educational program and a college retention pilot program.  Dr. Beck serves as the Director of Planning and Evaluation for the Center for Community Outreach and Applied Research.

Ms. Morgan Jones, MA,  Assistant Director
office. 423-232-0862

Ms. Jones graduated from the Masters of Sociology program at ETSU. She has experience in questionnaire design, conducting focus groups, web survey programming, data analysis and statistics. She is responsible for overall project management and works with faculty on their research design and logistics for all projects at the ASRL. Additionally, Ms. Jones works with undergraduate student workers and Masters of Sociology students in their work with ASRL projects. In 2014 Ms. Jones is an active member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the leading organization for survey researchers in this country.

Dr. Leslie McCallister, Senior Faculty Affiliate

Dr. McCallister has 15 years of experience conducting community-based research projects. Since her arrival at ETSU, she has worked with multiple community agencies such as the Church Hill Free Medical Clinic, Coalition for Kids, Project Access, the Johnson City Community Health Center (formerly the Downtown Clinic) to design and implement program evaluation strategies. Her areas of expertise include survey research, questionnaire design, focus groups, grant writing, and program evaluation. 

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