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Community Voices: The Value of Service-Learning. Eric Hartman Global Studies, Providence College ehartman@providence.edu. The Puzzle: Dominant discourse of deep concern versus experience, practice, feedback Evolved as an engaged project through three separate program evaluations

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community voices the value of service learning

Community Voices: The Value of Service-Learning

Eric Hartman

Global Studies, Providence College

ehartman@providence.edu

slide2

The Puzzle: Dominant discourse of deep concern versus experience, practice, feedback

  • Evolved as an engaged project through three separate program evaluations
  • Caused a return to and re-reading of the literature
  • Conclusions
the puzzle
The Puzzle
  • Dominant voices critical or at best highly suspicious of SL community impacts (Stoecker and Tryon, 2009)
  • HE-SL Listserve, norm of concern, e.g.
  • Contrasted with experience and first round of evaluation feedback
the data
The Data
  • Interviews with purposefully selected sample of 12 CBO directors / volunteer supervisors in evaluation of state-wide AmeriCorps program
  • Focus group with 12 CBO directors / volunteer supervisors cooperating with large, urban university piloting SL requirement for 1st years
  • Focus group and open-ended feedback from 69 community members working with GSL programs in Bolivia, Brazil, and Tanzania
  • Quantitative survey data from each of above groups
phase 1 statewide program university students
Phase 1 – Statewide Program, University Students
  • Capacity Building: “lasting impact: capacity. We have increased capacity with volunteers. We wouldn’t be able to offer the same set of services to residents. Students bring energy, ideas... We had a student public relations coordinator... The student did 6 or 7 press releases, a newsletter, and a social media plan. If she wasn’t here we wouldn’t have done that.”
phase 1 statewide program university students1
Phase 1 – Statewide Program, University Students
  • For a rural county’s effort to coordinate volunteering across community organizations, the university volunteer’s presence made it possible “that this initiative will become long-term viable.”
  • Blood drives secure enough blood to help more than 1,000 patients a year and “would not happen without the students.”
phase 1 statewide program university students2
Phase 1 – Statewide Program, University Students
  • Without student volunteers at the local YMCA, “the majority of these programs would not run.”
  • Without university volunteers, “24-hour services would be gone” at the only 24/7/365 resource for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in a rural county
urban university civic engagement requirement
Urban University, Civic Engagement Requirement
  • During the focus group, partners began to debate with one another about what fair expectations are in respect to university volunteers. I moved the discussion to considering the possibility that a requirement could be negative in terms of saddling community organizations with unwilling and uninterested volunteers. Provided this possibility and given time to discuss it, the organizational representatives present said unanimously that they would prefer a requirement like the one being piloted.
urban university civic engagement requirement1
Urban University, Civic Engagement Requirement
  • CBO representatives shifted quickly into a role described by Stoecker and Tryon , in which community members embrace their roles as co-educators. Specific positive attributes of a requirement, according to these organizational representatives, include the opportunity for students to “get their feet wet,” the unique chance students have to mature and grow through the experience, and the exposure to social sector career opportunities.
urban university civic engagement requirement2
Urban University, Civic Engagement Requirement
  • I asked about imbalance between student learning goals and community organization needs. After being pushed, one organizational representative agreed that when a student only comes three times, and never returns, “it is more about the student” than the K-12 student he or she tutors. Even this person, however, suggested that the sum benefit for her organization is still better because of the partnership, in this case because the organization continues to get stable, ongoing volunteers who return long past the time their required service commitment is fulfilled.
the surveys outcomes
The Surveys – Outcomes

State-wide Program (40 respondents currently)

the surveys outcomes1
The Surveys – Outcomes

Urban Institution

the surveys outcomes2
The Surveys – Outcomes

State-wide Program (40 respondents currently)

the surveys outcomes3
The Surveys – Outcomes

State-wide Program (40 respondents currently)

the surveys outcomes4
The Surveys – Outcomes

Market Pressures & Idealistic Efforts: Addressing Community Impacts and Perverse Incentives through Fair Trade Learning (Hartman & Chaire)

  • Sites: Bolivia, Tanzania, Jamaica
  • Methods: Survey, interview/ focus group
  • Initial findings
  • Lessons learned during data collection
  • Challenges
conclusions reflections
Conclusions & Reflections
  • SL program experiences are generally positive for community organizations
  • Need to build more systematically on existing research
  • Transformation vs. transaction is a mission-related question that requires a context-dependent response
  • Focus more tightly on specific questions, isolating program factors
puzzling transactional transformational
Puzzling – Transactional, Transformational

Social Change

Immediate Need

Transactional

Transformational

questions comments

Questions, Comments

Feedback Invited!

ehartman@providence.edu