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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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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.

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Yukiko Ishikura

English-medium degree programmes are one of the trends within the internationalisation of higher education in Japan. The recent university internationalisation project, Project for Establishing University Network for Internationalization, or Global 30 is a good example. English-medium degree programmes attract a larger and more diverse international student population to study in Japan and create an on-campus international learning environment for both local and international students. This article aims to shed light on what attracts Japanese students to such an on-campus international learning experience and the kinds of challenges they face in taking English-medium courses. The results of my research show that English as a medium of instruction is a good tool to attract Japanese students, but the quality and relevance of what is being delivered are also significant. Japanese students are willing to challenge themselves in a different learning environment, but they tend to do so without seeking support, which in turn limits their learning.

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Kearsley A. Stewart

Interest in short-term international placements in global health training for U.S.-based medical students is growing; the trend is mirrored for global health undergraduate students. Best practices in field-based global health training can increase success for medical students, but we lack a critical framework for the undergraduate global health field experience. In what ways does an undergraduate field experience in global health resemble a medical student's first international health elective? Is it more similar to a study-abroad programme or a service-learning experience with a focus on personal development, civic responsibility and community engagement? This article suggests that an undergraduate global health field experience contains features of both the international medical elective and a traditional service-learning programme. I analyse a case study of a short-term U.S.-based undergraduate global health project and explore the intersections of research, professional training and service learning.

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Neda Maghbouleh, Clayton Childress and Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

Marx's critique of capitalism remains foundational to the university social science curriculum yet little is known about how instructors teach Marx. In post-industrial, service-oriented economies, students are also increasingly disconnected from the conditions of industrial capitalism that animate Marx's analysis. Inspired by the discussion of how a piece of wood becomes a table in Marx's Capital Vol. 1., 'Our Table Factory, Inc.' simulates a diverse array of roles in the chain of production into and out of a table factory to understand key concepts: means/mode of production, use/exchange value, primitive accumulation wage/surplus labour, proletariat, bourgeoisie, alienation, false consciousness, commodity fetishism and communist revolution. We describe the exercise and present qualitative and quantitative assessment data from introductory sociology undergraduates across three small teaching-intensive universities in the United States. Findings detail the exercise's efficacy in fostering retention of material and in facilitating critical engagement with issues of inequality.

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Katie Kirakosian, Virginia McLaurin and Cary Speck

In this article, we discuss how adding a final film project to a revised ‘Culture through Film’ course led to deeper student learning and higher rates of student success, as well as increased student satisfaction. Ultimately, we urge social science educators to include experiential projects in their courses that connect to all learning styles. Such projects should also challenge students to ‘create’, a task that requires generating ideas, planning and ultimately producing something, which, according to Bloom’s revised taxonomy, engages students in the highest cognitive process (Anderson and Krathwohl 2000). Although this class focused on the intersections of culture and film and was taught at an American university, we believe these lessons apply more broadly.