Chapter 3.3: A Pilot Evaluation of a Community-Based Service Learning Pedagogy Within an Undergraduate Psychology Degree
Research suggests that Community-based Service Learning (CbSL) can be a transformative pedagogy, and mutually beneficial for both community and student. It has been shown to positively impact on students’ education (Lundy, Teach Psychol 34:23–27, 2007), increasing awareness of social responsibility (Reed et al. 2005) and improving positive self-efficacy (Kendrick, Mich J Community Serv Learn 3:72–81, 1996), as well as providing a useful and beneficial service to community organisations (Worrall, Mich J Community Serv Learn 14(1):5–1, 2007). A pilot CbSL component of an undergraduate module in Psychology was evaluated. Second and third year undergraduate students were required to visit community partner organisations in a mutually beneficial arrangement, where students identified research questions relevant and applicable in the context of the organisation. Students were assessed via a literature review and oral presentation. The evaluation of the programme was based on feedback from students and the reflections of the academic staff and Director of CbSL. Students evaluated CbSL in a number of areas using a self-report questionnaire with open and closed questions under the following headings (i) Civic Engagement (ii) Critical Thinking (iii) Collaboration and (iv) Academic Development. This was completed at two time-points; before and after the CbSL module. Findings from the evaluation suggest both positive and negative outcomes associated with CbSL and successful attainment of module learning objectives. Findings from the evaluation also indicate that further attention needs to be given in terms of assessment method and alignment of module content with community partner needs in the context of future development of CbSL. While results from the evaluation are mixed, they provide further insight into CbSL as a pedagogical approach that can potentially lead transformative learning experiences for students within the context of community organisations.
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