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What History is good for

Service-learning and studying the past

Michael Smith

Many disciplines in the social sciences and humanities can offer profound insights into what it means to be human. History, however, encompasses the totality of human experience: economics, politics, philosophy, art, ethics, sociology, science - all of it becomes part of history eventually. Therefore, the opportunities for incorporating service-learning (carefully integrating community service with academic inquiry and reflecting on insights derived from such integration) into history courses abound. Many historians have taken advantage of this opportunity. Few historians have undertaken a scholarly investigation of the learning taking place in their service-learning courses, however. Indeed, despite the fact that the reflective process so central to service-learning lends itself remarkably well to the scholarship of teaching and learning (it generates very rich data on both the affective and content-based learning students are experiencing), there has been little published SoTL research from any discipline about service-learning. Drawing on qualitative evidence from an honours course comprised of 16 students at a private liberal arts college in the northeastern United States, I argue that not only does service-learning in history lead to more active citizenship, but that it also leads to deeper appreciation of an historical perspective as a key ingredient for being an engaged citizen.

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Joan Gross

Studying abroad can be a life-altering experience, but not necessarily. I credit the two study-abroad experiences I had as an undergraduate as setting my course as an anthropologist. At this stage in my career, having directed, taught and evaluated five study-abroad programmes in three different countries, I felt ready to create my own based on the pros and cons I had observed. In December 2013, I completed a pilot run of a binational learning community focused on food, culture and social justice in Ecuador and Oregon and would like to share the experience in order to encourage other higher education teachers to invent similar programmes. It is not an easy model to pull off, especially in a large state institution, but it achieved the kind of coherence that I have found lacking in other study-abroad programmes and was a very satisfying teaching/learning experience. I will outline some issues concerning study-abroad programmes and then describe

the programme I was involved in implementing in 2013.

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Ethan Lowenstein

This article seeks to build on current and emerging conceptions of teacher expertise as they relate to education for civic engagement and social awareness in the university classroom context. I explore the notion of teaching tensions between vulnerability and authority, authenticity and distance, safety and challenge, disclosure and neutrality, and social transformation as against individual agency. I argue that these tensions and the teacher decision-making processes involved in their navigation can add to university instructors' capacity to reflect on and evaluate curriculum design decisions when aiming to impact student social and civic identity development. I examine teaching tensions and their dynamic interaction through a self-study of my own teaching and of involving the students in a structured academic service-learning partnership with school pupils in a social studies methods course for pre-service teachers in the United States.

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Claire Cororaton and Richard Handler

This article documents and analyses the uneasy, if not contradictory, relationship between service learning and liberal arts thinking in an undergraduate programme in Global Development Studies (GDS) at a North American University. As an undergraduate, Cororaton participated in a service-learning project to build a greenhouse in Mongolia; at the same time, the curriculum of her major (GDS, a programme directed by Handler) was developing a critique of such service projects, focusing on their lack of political self-consciousness. The authors contextualise the story within the university's ongoing attempts to enhance its global profile.

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Chaise Ladousa

This article explores representations emergent in discourse about service learning in an effort to understand what gives the notion special value. A job presentation of a candidate for dean of faculty, articles published in a college newspaper, descriptions posted on a college website and commentary offered in an interview with a student demonstrate that representations of service learning are salient in multiple contexts and presuppose the potential to transform the lives of everyone involved. This article identifies one of the discursive constructs making transformation possible – even inevitable – in reflections on service learning, and uses the construct to explore how it shapes a single instance of service learning's failure.

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Bonnie Urciuoli

Service learning and other engaged scholarship programmes ideally operate in an academic framework to enhance student understanding of citizenship and community engagement. In reality, given the constraints on institutional budgets, such programmes are likely to be underfunded and academically understaffed. Structured as choices on an institutional menu, programmes are routinely touted as transformative though what they transform may be indeterminate. The ways in which such programmes are presented encourage students to interpret transformation as personal experience, valued to the extent that students can do good in the world by acting as agents of progress, solving problems for people imagined to need their expertise, ideally in exotic settings as unlike students' routine lives as possible, while students develop skills and connections useful in their post-college careers. This construction of engaged scholarship readily lends itself to institutional promotional language but can undermine students' effective action in actual projects.

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Shirin Housee

This article explores the everyday experiences of minority ethnic students at a university in the West Midlands. Based on interviews with 23 second-level students taking Sociology modules, it seeks to highlight the key social, personal and pedagogic issues for this group of minority ethnic students and to deepen understandings of cultural identity and exchange on campus. The students' multiple narratives and voices are central to the article, as is the possibility that there are multiple ways of experiencing teaching and learning at a university.

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Part 1: Active learning and intercultural competence

Action research reform of a US study abroad programme in Seville, Spain

Eva Infante Mora and Davydd J. Greenwood

CASA-Sevilla is a study abroad programme for US university students with an advanced level of Spanish. In recent years, new patterns of social behaviour among students (mainly the use of technology and low-cost flights) aggravated their difficulties in establishing contacts with the local society, which often resulted in the perpetuation of stereotypes. The programme goals of cultural immersion and language improvement were therefore at risk. Through an action research and a participatory organisational development process, CASA-Sevilla stakeholders carried out a profound reform of the programme, based on the principles of active pedagogy, mentoring and community-engaged learning. This section illustrates this reform process, with its highlights and shadows.

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Paulina Mihailova

The article investigates how university lecturers taking part in the compulsory teacher training at Stockholm University (SU) conceive of the effects of standardised and formalised training on their teaching. The study explores the emotions and responses evoked among academics when everyone is required to embrace the same pedagogic philosophy of constructive alignment (Biggs 2003), adopt the language of learning outcomes and assign the same standards to diverse academic practices. The article attempts to shed light on different conceptions of the quality of teaching and learning in higher education and the interplay between the lecturers' values of academic freedom, collegiality and disciplinary expertise and the university leadership's values of efficiency, accountability and measurability of performance. The article considers how these conceptions coexist and are negotiated within the university as an organisation.

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Marcela Vásquez-León, Brian Burke, and Lucero Radonic

A critical interest of applied anthropology is to educate students to be theoretically grounded and capable of assuming a level of social responsibility that extends beyond academia. In this paper, we reflect on the issue of student preparation for work in the policy arena by focusing on the experiences of a five-year applied research project that examines agricultural cooperatives as situated agents of change and grassroots development. The project has completed three field seasons in Brazil and Paraguay in which student researchers, including anthropology graduate students from the University of Arizona and in-country undergraduate students from partner universities, have been an integral part. The paper focuses on strategies developed in the research process that enhance student learning. Community Based Research, learning to work through research teams, and creating community-university partnerships constitute the bases of a project that emphasises student learning in the process of doing research and forming collaborations.