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SERVICE LEARNING AS TRANSFORMATION Prof. Priscilla Daniels Director of Community Engagement Unit University of the Western Cape TWK PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATION.

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Presentation on theme: "SERVICE LEARNING AS TRANSFORMATION Prof. Priscilla Daniels Director of Community Engagement Unit University of the Western Cape TWK PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATION."— Presentation transcript:

1 SERVICE LEARNING AS TRANSFORMATION Prof. Priscilla Daniels Director of Community Engagement Unit University of the Western Cape TWK PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATION OF 10 YEARS NETHERLANDS, 16 JUNE 2014

2 INTRODUCTION: Why Transformation? Transformation is required in higher education as this provides the outputs in the form of graduates who need to be equipped to engage with and respond to the changes occurring in global society. Education for citizenship vs education for a career

3 The current trend… Forms of engagement exist at Higher Education Institutions for e.g.: Academic programs can also engage students in the community. Professional schools create a range of experiential learning opportunities for their students (for example, clinicals, internships, co-op programs, field experiences, practica, student teaching). The learning objectives of these kinds of engagement activities focus only on developing student's professional skills and do not emphasize to the student the importance of service within the community and lessons of civic responsibility.


5 Transformational Learning Mezirow (2000) describes transformational learning as a “process whereby learners make meaning of their experience through critical reflection on assumptions and engage in rational discourse in order to arrive at more dependable and justifiable ‘meaning perspectives’ or ‘flames of reference’ for guiding individual and social action.” in Kiely, R (2005) Transformative international service learning Academic Exchange Quarterly

6 Elements of transformation Mode of knowledge Teaching Skills acquired / reflection Value: citizenship

7 Learning Learning creates channels and pathways for transformation as it involves a sense of knowing oneself and the world. Higher education institutions – should therefore provide opportunities where students feel repeatedly challenged to test and revise their points of view. Learning activities designed to provide these challenges to students may feel unsafe or intimidating however these are required in order to affect and frame new attitudes and perceptions of students towards the world. Adapted from Richard P. Keeling & Associates, Learning as transformation: resourcefulness and renewal in higher education, Journal of College and Character, Volume X, no.3, Feb 2009

8 How do we learn? teaching/

9 Service-learning: A definition Service learning is a formal learning experience that combines community service with structured academic learning. Through direct experience with complex social issues, students learn about the community, the connection between service and their field of study, and as community members and future professionals in fostering positive social change. -Service Learning Institute, California State University Monterey Bay courtesy of Prof. Seth Pollack

10 Aligning Service-learning in an Educational theory Slide 1 Paulo Freire’s educational theory identifies the following components that resonates with service-learning – Theory of Value: – Teaching students to think democratically and to continually question and make meaning from (critically view) everything they learn “....our relationship with the learners demands that we respect them and demands equally that we be aware of the concrete conditions of their world, the conditions that shape them. To try to know the reality that our students live is a task that the educational practice imposes on us: Without this, we have no access ' to the way they think, so only with great difficulty can we perceive what and how they know.

11 Aligning Service-learning in an Educational theory Slide 2 Theory of Knowledge: Knowledge is a social construct.... knowing is a social process, which, cannot be forgotten or even devalued. Two types of knowledge according to Freire, unconscious, sometimes practical knowledge and critical, reflective or theory knowledge. Beliefs are shaped into knowledge by discussion and critical reflection.

12 Aligning Service-learning in an Educational theory Slide3 Theory of Learning: Knowledge is not a set commodity passed from teachers to students Students must construct knowledge in the context of the knowledge they already possess Teachers have to learn how students understand the world so that the teacher understands how the student can learn “Learning is a process where knowledge is presented to us then shaped through understanding, discussion and reflection”

13 Aligning Service-learning in an Educational theory Slide 1 Theory of transmission Teaching must be a democratic teaching process to avoid dependence. Co learning is therefore a prerequisite Students become productive subjects of the meaning of knowledge. Learning and re-learning

14 How to integrate service-learning into existing courses? (1) One-time group service projects: Some course objectives can be met when the entire class is involved in a one-time service project. Arrangements for service projects can be made prior to the semester and included in the syllabus. Option within a course: Many faculty begin community engagement with a pilot project. In this design, students have the option to become involved in the community-based project. A portion of the normal coursework is substituted by the community-based component. For e.g.: Reflective journal

15 How to integrate service-learning into existing courses? (2) Required within a course: If all students are involved in service, it is easier to design coursework (i.e., class discussions, writing assignments, exam questions) that integrates the service experience with course objectives. Class sessions can involve community representatives or service sector staff and site visits. Action research projects: This type of class involves students in research within the community. The results of the research are communicated to the NGO / CB0 / Health Centre etc so that it can be used to address community needs. Community research projects can support the ongoing research of faculty.

16 How to integrate service-learning into existing courses? (3) Disciplinary capstone / final year placements Community engagement is an excellent way to build upon students’ cumulative knowledge in a specific discipline and to demonstrate the integration of that knowledge with real life issues. Multiple course projects: Community engagement projects with one or more partners may span different courses in the same semester or multiple courses over a year or longer. These projects must be broad enough to meet the learning goals of multiple courses over time, and because of this they may have a cumulative impact on both student learning and community development that is robust. Vanderbilt University teaching-through-community-engagement/

17 Course design questions to ask 1.What are some of your reasons for wanting to incorporate service-learning into your teaching? 2.Which of your reasons are most important to you? Why? 3.What changes would you like to see occur in your students by incorporating service- learning instructional activities? 4.What specific learning outcome(s) do you want service-learning to fulfil? 5.To what extent are the objectives of service-learning compatible with the needs and values of students in your course? How are they incompatible? 6.How will students be grouped in your service-learning plan (e.g., individually, in small groups, pairs, a combination of these)? 7.What knowledge, skills and interests should students possess to be able to benefit from service-learning? 8.Are there types of students for whom you would not recommend participation in service-learning? University of Maryland Adapted from Morton, 1996.


19 CONCLUSION "There is no reason for universities to feel uncomfortable in taking account of society's needs, in fact, they have a clear obligation to do so." Derek Bok


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