The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze experiences embedding community service learning into an assignment for a bachelor of social work course. The author used these experiences and their connections with early conceptions of progressive education and community work principles to present a pragmatic and supple community service learning (SCSL) model.
In total, 15 students and four community organizations participated in SCSL. Data consisted of focus groups, participatory observation, evaluations, e-mails, and documents. Naturalistic case study methodology was employed to retrospectively describe a noteworthy teaching and learning experience.
The SCSL model was judged useful for weaving current local realities into course lectures, promoting professional development, and providing community organizations with timely research syntheses. It seemed no more demanding than other teaching experiences. Six features of the model were deemed beneficial: multi-course scaffolding, bottom-up management, asymmetrical student roles, integration of academic and experiential learning, and student involvement in course delivery. Relevant contextual factors included: small class size, maturity of students, and cohesion within cohort.
A single teaching experience and a small sample of participants informed this case study. Further research is needed to draw firm conclusions about SCSL’s usefulness and generalizability.
Acknowledging that it is based on limited evidence, SCSL appears to be a promising model for encouraging knowledge mobilization between universities and community organizations, and providing future professionals with experience in such activities.
This paper describes and analyzes the pedagogic value of SCSL, a manageable and adaptable teaching model for busy faculty.
The author wishes to thank students Jennifer Manning, Heather Doyle, Katie Sesk, Ryan Dinn, Nicole Edwards, Ryan Norman, and William Lummis; community partners Daybreak, Waypoints, St John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre, and Seniors Resource Centre of Newfoundland and Labrador; and colleagues Vandna Sinha, Mike Devine, Sarah Colven and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable contributions to this project.
Ellenbogen, S. (2017), "An alternative model of community service learning: Students, community, and instructors learning from each other", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 315-330. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-08-2016-0060Download as .RIS
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