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Overview of Service-Learning Practice and Research Professor Barbara Holland University of Sydney.

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1 Overview of Service-Learning Practice and Research Professor Barbara Holland University of Sydney

2 The Current Academic World Students: Consume what we serve them Listen, transcribe, absorb, repeat, return info Focus on costs more than value Do the minimum; negotiate tasks Vocationally-oriented and often already working Academic Staff: Continue to teach the way they were taught Pursue traditional research even when essential expertise and wisdom regarding critical questions reside outside the academy Don’t see that local questions = global implications

3 A Hopeful Vision Students who: –Are “engaged” with learning –Prepare to participate in class –Ask great questions –Support each other as learners –Gain skills and confidence as well as knowledge –Develop further learning goals and plans Academic Staff/Faculty who: –See themselves as learners –Demonstrate enthusiasm for discovery and reasoning –Actively link research and teaching ideas –Engage with external partners

4 Time for a Change Organising and rewarding research and teaching as separate silos limits our capacity to achieve institutional goals. An integrated view of learning and discovery increases student and academic staff capacity and success by reducing unproductive fragmentation and isolation.

5 What students must know! Apply knowledge to real world through hands-on experience Global issues & their implications The role of Australia in the world Cultural values and traditions of other countries Innovation & creativity Work in diverse groups & settings Integrity & ethics Peter D. Hart Research, 2006

6 Contemporary Students Many are first-in-family Represent many cultures Working many hours each week Commuting Highly diverse on many dimensions Not always certain of academic interests or career directions Distracted!

7 Contemporary students require new strategies Learning should be: Focused on consequences – Take an issue- based approach Developed across curricula, with ever more challenging problems and standards for performance Experienced through engagement with diverse communities & learning environments Demonstrated through the application of knowledge, skills & responsibilities to new settings and complex problems

8 Why do these methods work to improve student learning? Learning by doing, yes, but more important, learning with consequences Learn that knowledge has power Demonstrate the usefulness of abstract ideas and theories Students explore and identify their interests and talents Enhances motivation through a sense of responsibility to others Increases student satisfaction

9 Engagement and Learning Engaged Learning/Learners Academic Service-Learning Community-based Learning Other Experiential Learning Cooperative Education Work-integrated Learning Internships Practica Clinical Field studies

10 Service-Learning is: Integrated into courses in order to meet specific learning objectives A teaching method About enhancing learning ….AND About enhancing community Transformational Intentional/rigorous Experiential and Reflective

11 Service-Learning is Not: An episodic volunteer activity Charitable acts/good works Disconnected from learning objectives Logging a # of hours of community service Compensatory service as punishment One-sided: benefiting only students or community

12 Defining Features Partnership – real work with real value Mutually beneficial outcomes –Addresses a community-identified need –Through an intellectual activity of importance Reciprocity –Enhances community capacity –Enhances student learning and/or research studies Knowledge exchange relationship – 2-way

13 Service-Learning Quality Clear and rigorous learning goal!! Collaborative planning and preparation Meaningful and challenging activity Cognitively challenging reflection Clarity of roles – partner, staff, student Partner as co-teacher Supportive institutional infrastructure Specific links to other assignments and class discussion Consequential assessment of learning

14 Establishing Learning Objectives Course-Specific Learning Objectives –Knowledge, skills, attributes particular to specific course content Generic Academic Learning –Graduate attributes –Critical thinking skills –Problem-solving skills –Communications skills

15 Learning Objectives (Continued) Learning to be a Learner –Active -Independent –Extract meaning from experience –Apply academic knowledge to real world –Integrate theory and practice –Learn across disciplines –Assess the quality of information resources

16 Learning Objectives (Continued) Community Learning about: –A particular community or population –A particular issue, challenge, opportunity –The provision of services to community –A particular organization or grass-root effort –Relevant public policies; historic perspectives –The role of stakeholders

17 Learning Objectives (Continued) Inter and Intra-personal Learning –Working collaboratively with others –About other groups and cultures (diversity) –Exploring personal values, ethics, ideology –Developing self-efficacy –Developing empathy –Learning to appreciate different views

18 Learning for Global/Local Citizenship Civic knowledge – concepts, principles, procedures of democracy, citizenship, government, policy-making Cognitive civic skills – taking reasoned positions Participatory civic skills – ways to lead, influence, implement, improve civic life Civic dispositions – act with respect, equality, justice, common good

19 Activity Thinking about the learning goals of the unit or course, identify at least one goal that might be enhanced by student engagement in a community-based service-learning activity. Write a one-sentence rationale explaining how a service-learning approach would help meet the goal. Be specific.

20 Course Planning What are the expected learning goals? How does SL help students reach those goals? What will be the teaching role of community? What will be evidence of mastery of content? How will we measure impact on student learning and development? How will we measure impact on community capacity?

21 Exemplary Service-Learning Outlines State the goal(s) for including service; identify the learning objectives related to service Connect the activity to other unit/course content Describe the activity design and outcomes Specify roles and responsibilities of students Define partner goals and roles Specify how students will demonstrate learning Provide timelines and logistical detail Describe reflection strategies and purposes

22 Examples Students across many disciplines work to improve a watershed: design new weirs, pumping systems, or other structures; assess riparian zone; install restorative plantings; build non-intrusive public observation spaces Students work with industry to research solutions to organic particulate mixing problems Science, engineering and health students work together to create hardware, electromechanical, software or behavioural solutions to help children with disabilities function at a higher level and quality of life

23 Examples ICT student teams solicit, design and implement software/web solutions projects for community partners Students design interactive programs, games, and projects for schools to encourage interest in engineering, science, maths and ICT among children; or to help immigrants learn English through technology Forensics students partner with law enforcement to do research on the use of sensors and chemical detectors History and art students work together to capture local history and develop a public exhibit

24 Examples Nursing/health students assess rate of Type II diabetes in a neighbourhood, research nutritional/cultural obstacles, and develop new food strategies with residents and local businesses Students study climate and materials to develop more effective and affordable home-rehab strategies in a particular community Students conduct research and develop recommendations to improve environmental sustainability for schools or small businesses

25 Examples Research on traffic flow, signage, and lighting and recommend safety improvements near a school or community facility Develop a plan to reconfigure space in a community facility to meet community needs Conduct research and design a rehab plan for a brownfield site Develop a marketing strategy for a museum to reach new audiences Work with a migrant centre to develop cross-cultural health education strategies and assessment tools

26 Students and Engaged Research Duke: “Research service-learning” courses involve students and faculty in research on community-identified needs. Similar programs: BrownCornell GeorgetownHarvard PrincetonMinnesota MichiganWisconsin

27 The Purpose of Reflection Connect experience with course content Integrate experience with learning goals Develop a sense of community in the unit Explore perceptions or biases Improve observation, communication, analysis skills Develop an appreciation of community assets Deepen knowledge of social issues/policy, or community Articulate their values and the consequences of personal actions and choices Develop a habit of reasoned inquiry

28 Kolb’s Learning Cycle Concrete experience Reflective observation Abstract conceptualization: apply concepts, models, theories, skills to explain or interpret the experience Active experimentation – testing knowledge in new situations

29 Effective Reflection Reflection should be: –Continuous – throughout the course –Connected – to specific learning objectives –Challenging – demand high quality student effort; linked to other course assignments –Contextualized – appropriate to the course; commensurate with the level and type of other course assignments and level of students

30 Reflection Strategies Journals – key phrase; double entry; critical incident; directed writing Experiential Research Paper – analysis of issues, policy, perspectives, frameworks Directed Readings and written reaction Class presentation Electronic discussion Group debriefing Creative activities

31 Assessing Reflection Bradley’s Levels of Reflection Level One: –Describes observations; no insights –Focuses on one aspect of site, situation or issue –Uses personal belief as evidence or fact –Does not articulate the reasons for other possible perspectives

32 Assessing Reflection Level Two –Observations are thorough but not placed in broader context –Provides cogent analysis of one perspective, but fails to see broader system and other factors –Is beginning to see difference between personal opinion and evidence –Sees legitimacy of other perspectives

33 Assessing Reflection Level Three –Offers multiple perspectives and the systemic context that frames the situation or issue –Perceives conflicting goals among those involved and recognizes that differences can be evaluated –Recognizes situational forces and their impact –Develops judgments based on reasoning and evidence –Understands issues of community, the options available, and his/her potential to take action

34 The Community Role- What is the Learning Goal? What kind of community partner is needed? What will be the teaching role of community? How much time is appropriate? How distributed across the whole unit? What will be evidence of mastery of content? How will you measure impact on student learning and development? How will you measure impact on community capacity?

35 Potential Community Roles Planning learning activities for mutual benefit Orientation and training of students Supervision of students Commitment to learning goals – co-teacher! Facilitation of reflection on community topics and settings Assessment of student performance Attention to impacts (=/-) on their org/clients

36 Partnership Process Clarify learning goals and outcomes before approaching partner Describe student skill levels Listen to partner ideas and expectations Design activity as a negotiated process Write out expected roles and benefits Agree on a communications plan Discuss evaluation/assessment; partner needs and interests

37 Activity Look at the learning goal statement you already developed. -What kind of community-based learning activity might you imagine? -What type of community partner plan would be needed to fit the learning goal? -What benefit might you imagine for the partner?

38 Service-Learning Research Building intellectual foundations Integrating theory and practice Reporting to funders and partners Building organizational support Persuading others to adopt service- learning Documenting practices/strategies Program improvement

39 Improved retention Increased academic content knowledge Improved higher order thinking skills; understanding complex problems Better communication skills Confident choice of course of study Personal outcomes – self-esteem, empowerment, motivation Social outcomes – pro-social behaviors, multicultural skills, interest in community issues, civic life Evidence of Impacts on Students

40 Other Research Topics Academic staff – motivations, impact on other teaching Partnerships – models and characteristics of partnerships, types of partnerships Partners – perceptions, motivations, satisfaction, benefits Community – impacts on community capacity and issues

41 Scale and Scope More than a third of U.S. postsecondary institutions offer service-learning Engagement crosses all disciplines Engagement is a force for institutional diversification Refereed publications on engagement topics appear in more than 100 disciplinary journals Engagement is influencing research and teaching around the world – Talloires Network of more than 40 nations

42 How do we sustain service- learning strategies? Link to specific learning objectives Link to institutional goals Invest in staff development Create incentives, recognition, rewards Invest in supportive infrastructure Recognize partner role in student learning Document and evaluate benefits and outcomes Build on existing good practices and literature

43 Staff Development Topics The theoretical and practical basis Curricular design and pedagogy Student learning styles and needs Characteristics of effective partnerships Methods for needs analysis/asset mapping Methods of community-based research Evaluation methods Documentation and dissemination strategies

44 SL and Institutional Goals Improve town-gown relationships Improve instruction and learning outcomes Foster interdisciplinary work Improve enrollment/retention/diversity Strengthen research agenda Attract new streams of revenue Demonstrate performance and accountability to stakeholders Address critical public issues

45 Engaged Learning requires a shift from a banking model of teaching – To A facilitating role where staff and students and community are creating learning and knowledge together.

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