How could libraries become the community partner in a service-learning partnership? What kinds of projects could service-learners do WITH libraries? This is one of the questions that was discussed at the roundtable discussion about service-learning at the ACRL (Assoc. of College & Research Libraries) annual conference.
An Ohio Campus Compact staff member/consultant, Jen Gilbride-Brown, is leading a webinar about designing service learning courses. More details are available here: https://www.academicimpressions.com/events/event_listing.php?i=1122&t=Overview
Someone at the Research Academy last week suggested the following book (which has also been added to the Recommended Reading section of this blog), The Unheard Voices: Community Organizations and Service-Learning. It's a fantastic resource that explores the service-learning relationship from the perspective of the community partner. Having worked with two community partners for the EDT 110 course, I became even more mindful of how stretched-thin small nonprofits and NGOs (nongovernment organizations) can be. One chapter is written by the director of a small nonprofit, Amy S.
This morning, I attended a breakfast at my institution to celebrate the many accomplishments of the Office of Service-Learning (including their AmeriCORPS VISTA volunteers) and faculty and staff at Wright State that are involved in supporting the academy's mission to "transform the lives of our students and the communities we serve." The mission also states that "We are committed to engaging in significant community service." Wright State was the only public institution in Ohio last year named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
The facilitators at the Service-Learning Research Academy last week encouraged participants to develop and/or refine projects that could translate into high quality research in the field of service-learning. I'm really excited to get started on my project. Breakout sessions provided opportunities to refresh knowledge or get familiar with the basics of qualitative and quantitative research. Then, participants broke into small groups to discuss possible research questions and methods.
I am in Indianapolis at a Service-Learning Research Academy hosted by IUPUI & Indiana Campus Compact. The goal is to gather together faculty and staff interested in furthering the research in service-learning - in particular, "high quality" research. It's been a whirlwind few days - a lot of it is over my head, honestly. Quantitative and qualitative research methods, etc. At any rate, it's been highly stimulating. It's also non-stop - we even have homework at night.
I've been thinking recently about the social nature of service-learning and how that can help librarians become more of a social partner in the research process. I was made aware yesterday of a piece by Barbara Fister, "Knowledge and the Network" in Library Journal. One paragraph, in particular, struck me: "Yet until they [students] see knowledge as an ongoing conversation, they will persist in thinking of research papers in terms of the pursuit of answers they can cut and paste.
Since our class ended in early March, I've been reflecting on how we can improve the research portfolios. As it stands now, the students include annotated bibliographies in the portfolio, along with recommendations for the agency. The recommendations were a new requirement this past quarter. Our aim was to get students to synthesize the information they were finding, rather than just summarizing it. In most classes, they would write a paper. However, our class is only 2 credits, and the focus is supposed to be on the research process, not writing the research paper.
I've been meaning to write for some time about an interesting discussion I took part in about a month ago in the service learning faculty learning community. A panel of service learning veterans came to share their experiences with us. One of the conversations that evolved stressed the importance of the difference between serving "to" or serving "with" community partners. As one develops service learning pedagogy and curriculum, it's important for us to be mindful of this distinction.
Jennifer Nutefall and I co-facilitated a roundtable discussion about service learning and information literacy connections at last week's ACRL Annual conference. These are some of the notes from the discussion. What roles can librarians play in Service Learning?