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  1. Introduction to International Service-Learning: Engaging Students with the World American Democracy Project National Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 7, 2007

  2. Nevin C. Brown President, International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership (IPSL)

  3. IPSL Definition of Service-Learning • Handout: “Declaration of Principles” • Academic study for credit, linked to volunteer service in a community-based agency/NGO • Study informs the service, service informs the study

  4. IPSL Definition (cont’d) • Many academic disciplines: liberal arts, humanities and environmental sciences, but also professional fields such as social work, engineering, business, pre-med and pre-law • AAHE monograph series: Now available through Stylus Publishing,

  5. IPSL Definition (cont’d) • International service-learning differs from volunteering through the focus on credit-bearing courses and structured reflection • International service-learning differs from internships/field study/practica in the focus on service rather than observation or career preparation • But these differences are not absolute

  6. International Service-Learning:IPSL Principles of Good Practice • Learning is rigorous, appropriate to academic level of students, and offers wide range of points of view, theories and ideas. • There is a clear connection between academic studies and the service. • Students have structured opportunities for reflection.

  7. IPSL Principles of Good Practice (cont’d.) • Students are encouraged to develop and demonstrate leadership skills. • Students are well-oriented before engaging in service-learning, are well-supported during the experience, and are provided support for “re-entry” at the conclusion of their experience.

  8. IPSL Principles of Good Practice (cont’d.) • The service is truly useful to the community/agency. • The service can be performed in a wide range of contexts and settings. • There is genuine reciprocity between the community served and the college or university, with a relationship built on mutual trust.

  9. Service Learning Robert G. Bringle, Director Julie Hatcher, Associate Director Center for Service and Learning Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

  10. Definition • Service learning is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students • a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs, and • b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility.

  11. Key Elements of Service Learning • Reflection • “Perplexity” • Activities to structure learning from the service experience • Reciprocity • Partnerships • Dialogue to structure the service experience

  12. Why Service Learning in Higher Education? • Powerful Pedagogy • Involves Faculty Expertise • Involves Structured Service • Develops Civic Responsibility • Enhances Student Development • Student Persistence and Retention • Supports an Expanding Role of Higher Education • Addresses Community Issues

  13. Key Principles • Academic credit is for learning, not service. • Set learning goals for students. • Establish criteria for the selection of community service placements. • Be prepared for uncertainty and variation in student learning outcomes. • Maximize the community responsibility for orientation of the course. • Do not compromise academic rigor.

  14. Service Learning Outcomes • Academic Development • Persistence and retention • Achievement and aspirations • Life Skills • Racial tolerance • Cultural understanding • Civic Responsibility • Commitment to community • Aspirations to volunteer (See

  15. International Service Learning Internationalservice learning is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experiencein which students are supported to a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs in a location outside the United States, and b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain a deeper understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the host community and cross-cultural issues, and an enhanced sense of their own global relationships and responsibilities.

  16. Key Elements of ISL • Respect • Cultural traditions (of service) • Inter-cultural framing • Reciprocity • Partnerships • Dialogue to structure the service experience • Reflection • “Perplexity” • Activities to structure learning from the service experience • Return • Refraction • Inter-relatedness, global citizenship

  17. The Key Role of Reflection in International Service-Learning

  18. Reflection as Cognitive Activity • Engages students in the intentional consideration of their experiences in light of particular learning objectives. • Reflection is both retrospective and prospective. • Educates the student’s attention.

  19. Guidelines for Reflection • Clearly links service experience to learning objectives • Is structured in terms of expectations, assessment criteria • Occurs regularly throughout semester • Instructor provides feedback • Includes opportunity to explore, clarify, and alter values

  20. When Designing Reflection, Consider . . . • Structured as an ongoing aspect of the course • Offered in multiple forms • Included in assessment • Modeled by instructor • Connected to course content

  21. Personal Journals Directed Writings Classroom Assessment Techniques Agency Presentations Ethical Case Studies Student Portfolios On-line Techniques Experiential Research Paper Minute Papers Stand and Declare Examples of Reflection Activities

  22. Reflection in International Service Learning • Pre-service • Use class sessions and readings to orient students to history, culture, language of host site • Ask site partner to provide background information • Have students read/hear reports from previous students • In-service • Seek information from students on a consistent basis • Provide feedback and guidance as appropriate • Confer with site supervisor periodically • Post-service • Gather final assessment from site supervisor and students

  23. UNC Local Applications Course • Links summer international service-learning experience with local realities in North Carolina; offered in the fall • Weekly readings, service-learning applications project, writing article/story for publication or photographic presentation with narration for display • Contact: Jenny Huq, UNC APPLES Service-Learning Program, or

  24. IPSL Reflection Resource • “Charting a Hero’s Journey” (Linda A. Chisholm) • 12-stage guide to service-learning reflection using readings from the “journeys” of others followed by suggested questions • Available from

  25. Learning Outcomes The learning outcomes that can be achieved through international service learning build on but go beyond those for either study abroad or domestic service learning.

  26. Service-learning and study abroad learning goals overlap in some areas. • Enhanced learning of subject matter • Personal growth and self-understanding • Intercultural learning and respect • Tolerance for ambiguity • Career focus and definition

  27. But each pedagogy also adds new elements that take the other in new directions. Study abroad involves international learning, in settings that take the student far away from the known and familiar. Service learning involves working closely with individuals in the surrounding community on a very personal level. When brought together, they change each other.

  28. How does service learning transform study abroad? • Changes the role of student from tourist and observer to co-worker and participant • Speeds up the process of immersion and connection, especially important in short-term programs • Imparts a deep appreciation for the assets of the surrounding community • Introduces another source of knowledge and authority into the course (from the service organization) • Fits well with the interests and learning styles of non-traditional, professional, or pre-professional students • Builds in an extra measure of reflection, with explicit methodology for doing this

  29. How does service learning transform study abroad (continued)? • Explicitly raises the issue of values and judgments • Enhances or introduces a civic engagement dimension, including concepts of global citizenship • Intensifies awareness of relationships between home and host country • Enhances the experiential learning component of course • Provides opportunity to practice skills of cross-cultural understanding • Provides additional opportunities for learning connected to the subject matter of the course

  30. How does study abroad transform domestic service learning? • Brings cross-cultural issues to the fore, with explicit methodology for crossing cultural boundaries and developing cross-cultural competencies • Throws social and cultural systems into bold relief by virtue of the great contrast between home and host country • Provides opportunities for certain kinds of service activities, not obtainable in home country • Leads students to rethink concepts of community, service, and civic engagement by virtue of contrast between home and host country • Enhances student skills for living and traveling beyond their home country

  31. How does study abroad transform domestic service learning (continued)? • Involves constant connection with the local community and service site, 24 hours a day throughout the duration of the course • Expands student sense of citizenship and responsibility from local to global • Helps American students learn and reflect on the role of the United States in international affairs at this particular moment • Leads students to rethink issues of power and wealth in home country, by virtue of comparison with host country • Increases student abilities to negotiate and comprehend cultural difference within home country

  32. Personal growth and self-understanding • Development of skills of personal reflection and analysis • Enhanced ability to use personal experience for academic learning • Contribution to personal identity formation and self confidence • Contribution to focusing and defining career goals

  33. Deep learning about the host country (and home country, by comparison) • Enhanced knowledge concerning the economic, political, ecological, health, demographic, and cultural systems of the host country • Appreciation for assets of host country, the integrity of its way of life, and the manner in which it approaches its problems • At least some foreign language acquisition • Reflection upon home country and how others see it • Intensified awareness of relationships between home and host country • Reflection upon issues of power, wealth, ethnicity, and class in both host and home country

  34. Advances in intercultural competence • Growing appreciation of the value of diverse viewpoints • Development of tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty, perplexity • Enhanced skills of intercultural communication and understanding that can be applied anywhere, including home country • Stronger grasp of basic theories, principles, and concepts for understanding a particular way of life • Stronger grasp of the economic, political, ecological, and cultural dynamics now shaping the whole world • Eagerness for more international contact • Enhanced skills for living and traveling beyond home country • Enhanced ability to work with people from other cultural backgrounds

  35. Evolving Sense of Civic Responsibility • Developing aspirations to volunteer and work for the public good • Deeper understanding of the knowledge base necessary for responsible citizenship • Expanding commitment to multiple communities, including those outside home country • Growing sense of the global dimensions of citizenship • Willingness to impart what was learned to others, including other students on campus • Greater awareness of the impact of one’s actions on others, including those outside home country • Complex understanding of the formation of values and judgments in a multicultural world • Rethinking concepts of community, service, and civic engagement by virtue of contrast between home and host country

  36. In sum, service learning opens up discussions of international reciprocity and connection in study abroad programs, while according local voices an important place in the construction of knowledge. In return, study abroad moves the discussion of citizenship and engagement that characterizes domestic service learning from local to global, with major transformations in concepts of community and civic responsibility.

  37. What are the different forms that international service learning can take? Immersion abroad: American students overseas • Service and learning, both abroad • Service abroad, learning in US • Learning before and/or after service abroad • Learning during service abroad, via web

  38. Different forms (continued) Immersion locally: Domestic Site with international population(s) Combination (DePaul University [Chicago], UNC-Chapel Hill [APPLES program]): • State-side language study • State-side SL with target group • Short-term international SL in country of target group

  39. Different forms (continued) • Intensive short-term • Semester or year-long • Faculty-led (from home institution) • In partnership with local institutions • Fully embedded in host institution • With home-stay • Without home-stay

  40. A Dilemma: Short- vs. Long-Term International Service-Learning Programs • Needs of our students • Needs of local agencies and communities • Introduction to a culture, or immersion?

  41. Identifying Institutional Support and Stakeholders • Role of Institutional Mission • Key Stakeholders: • Faculty • Study-abroad/international programs office • Financial aid office • Registrar • Development office

  42. Does It Matter? • What do we know about the impact of international service-learning on: • Students • Institutions of Higher Education • Service Agencies

  43. International Service-Learning:Impacts on Students • A more radical educational experience than traditional study-abroad—transformative intellectual and moral change, pluralistic world view, rethinking of career choices. • Increase in adaptability, motivation, ability to deal with ambiguity, civic commitment.

  44. Impacts on Students (cont’d.) • Development of significant leadership abilities—adaptability and resourcefulness, fresh views on old problems, recasting familiar issues in light of broader experience. • Total engagement with another society and culture—but greater difficulty re-entering U.S. society.

  45. International Service-Learning:Impacts on Colleges/Universities • Fosters adoption of service-learning at host universities and/or integration of service-learning in the regular curriculum. • Most successful in universities in developing nations and/or with arrival of new leadership • Least successful in large established universities with strong adherence to traditional academic procedures and pedagogies.

  46. Impacts on Colleges/Universities • Works best where service-learning is supported by creative leadership, accommodating administrative structures, faculty buy-in, and alignment with institutional mission.

  47. International Service-Learning: Impacts on Service Agencies • Service-learning students bring high degree of commitment, special skills and experiences, cultural diversity. • Agencies are effective in monitoring and protecting service-learning students and often built long-term bonds with them.

  48. Impacts on Service Agencies (cont’d) • Agencies often have a higher regard for the value of volunteer help as a result of service-learning student participation. • Agencies find long-term student assignments most helpful but often have great difficulty accommodating short-term service-learning students and programs.

  49. Impacts on Service Agencies (cont’d.) • Agencies would like to be involved more equally in planning service-learning assignments and in the academic work of the students.

  50. For further information on impacts: • Service-Learning Across Cultures: Promise and Achievement, Humphrey Tonkin (ed.), 2004 • Available from