Service learning is a higher education civic engagement approach, commonly practiced in semester-long courses. There has been a variety of studies that assess how the practice of service learning has been mostly driven by the interests of the higher education institutions. Consequently, the practice of service learning has been criticized as useless, and even harmful to communities served in some instances (read more about this on When Service Learning Doesn’t Really Serve). Continue reading Three (Overlooked) Features Essential to Successful Service Learning in Higher Education
From my most recent conversation, I was asked what to do in encouraging engineering students to participate in a service learning (SL) program?
I have learned that in a research university institution, “recruiting” engineering students–who tend to have “busy” schedule and perceive less direct learning/practice in SL program–has been a challenge.
From the “busy” perspective, I could respond immediately that in my SL course, I always have one sentence in my course description that says “Flexible schedules are expected as likely we will have project tasks that require students to go to meetings outside of regular class times.” How one understands the word busy is relative to one’s socio cultural context. In my SL case, I always try to see it from a community’s perspective, that their schedule is not as straight-forward as us academics. And that we have more resources than community groups, we should be more flexible to meet their schedule.
SL is to serve the needs of the community. We are the ones who should fit our schedule to theirs.
As for the “recruiting,” it took me a while. But finally I remember that SL is about civic engagement. Also, thinking about my current TA assignment with the “Taking Initiative,” I offer the following thoughts.
As someone who is preparing his finish line in the pursuit of PhD, I have been thinking about many different things about how to use all these experiences, skills, and networks, for my next career. During this moment of contemplation, I came across the following:
You find yourself better placed to help others do the research than doing the research yourself. – Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier.
I have enjoyed very much facilitating a service learning course, implementing its philosophy, and embracing its opportunities. I was first exposed to the practice service learning back in 2006 when I was a member of a community-based research team, and published a book documenting a total of 67 in-depth interviews with local community organizations; please read this interview about the book.
My current community-based project has brought lots of reflective thinking. On one hand, I am blessed. On the other hand, I could not really avoid them. Here is my latest reflective thinking that I recently shared with my “partners in crime.”
If done right, community-based project is one of the most frustrating projects. Sometimes, one of the most successful is among the most frustrating. People might argue it doesn’t have to (be frustrating). I would argue back, I am not sure if he/she truly understands the complexities of a true community-based project.
One of the possible source of frustrations from this process is that I follow a learning process/theory called popular education (see Paulo Freire and Myles Horton if interested). While the very large majority of instructors follow traditional learning approaches called pedagogy (teaching for children) and/or andragogy (teaching for adult). Popular education is mostly adopted and continued to be developed in a specific area of sociology and community psychology. While pedagogy and andragogy are exclusive in school of education. Most of their strategies are contradictive.
In addition, I am *very* flexible, but I realize it does create confusions and messiness around me sometimes, and maybe they could be counter-productive. But as long as it produces good impacts on community partners and their immediate communities, that is all that matters to me, to be completely very honest. I don’t mind at all with all the messiness, I will have to deal with them.
Shared a poster in the Community Development Society annual meeting and conference in Dubuque July 20-23, 2014.
My poster is basically a reflection on the last five service learning courses I co-instructed in the past four academic years. Please read my posts on my past service learning courses for more information about them.
In the mean time you can view an image version of the poster. Continue reading Shouldn’t Service Learning be About Civic Engagement?
I would like to thank Kelcie Kempenich on her candid observation on the Nelson Institute‘s capstone service learning program. Her journalistic project Connecting Through Capstones helps communicate the values that we are trying to embrace from our community-university partnership.
Just a quick disclaimer though 🙂 since I am really hoping that I do not offend scientists in my comments captured in this project (nothing in here is anyone’s fault but mine that I might not clearly articulate my message). I got nervous when I heard my recorded interview I might say stupid stuff. Continue reading Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Environmental Studies Service Learning
by Jasmine Badreddine and Wally Graeber
The South Madison Farmers’ Market (SMFM) has been in the area for more than a decade. Despite the strong intention to provide safe, affordable, healthy food to the South Madison community, why does the market struggle to attract both vendors and customers?
That is the question that Robert Pierce and Shellie Pierce asked a team of undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to answer. Robert and Shellie, a motivated father-daughter pair, are two key organizers of the market. They collaborated with eight students from the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to conduct a research project this past fall semester to address the question.