Problem-Based Service-Learning (faculty development at Bonner)


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This presentation was offered at the Bonner Foundation's Fall Directors' Meeting 2011 by Rick Gordon and Ruth Scipione, who work with Siena College and other institutions. This is an excellent strategy for faculty development and engagement in service-learning. It is also linked to promoting high-impact practices. For more information contact, or

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Problem-Based Service-Learning (faculty development at Bonner)

  1. 1. + PBSL: Pathways to Democratic Civic Rick Gordon and Ruth Scipione Siena College
  2. 2. + Workshop Goals  Explore 21st century model of service learning--Hi impact service and social change  Need to work smarter, not harder  Change paradigm from student placement/volunteer model to problem solving model, from “technocratic” civic engagement to democratic civic engagement
  3. 3. + Eyes on the prize: Ends vs means  Challenge: Create a more socially just world  Sub-challenge: Aspiring to Democratic Civic Engagement and Deep Partnerships
  4. 4. + Multidimensional Problem  Student Engagement, Faculty Engagement, Institutional Support, Community PartnershipsResults and Outcomes  Can’t move on to highest level without moving others as well
  5. 5. + Yeah, but…  How do you get faculty engagement at any level?  And how do you move them from initial interest or trying SL to deep engagement and commitment?
  6. 6. + Activity 1  Motivation: Get beyond altruism  Economic Theory: Incentive and Disincentives: Increase benefits/lower costs  Brainstorm Incentives/Disincentives for each dimension  4 small groups: Student, Faculty, Institutional, Community Partner  For each, list their interests in one column, obstacles in another
  7. 7. +How can we align faculty incentives/interests with those of students, institution, community partner?
  8. 8. + PBSL for faculty buy-in  Start with premise we are not promoting service—focus on academic learning  Entry point for faculty to SL—get foot in the door but also  “Smarter,” more “democratic” orientation to engagement
  9. 9. +PBSL Key Concepts Clear identification of learning outcomes Partnering with community partner with a problem that directly relates to course learning outcomes Presenting students with a problem to solve related to learning outcomes that demands some type of service to community partner Preparing students for their PBSL work by building knowledge, skills, and abilities Employing on-going feedback—reflection and assessment
  10. 10. +Appeal of PBSL Relates directly to course outcomes Not overly complicated logistics Problem statement written by faculty member to specifically address community need and desired learning results Usually requires student teamwork—real problems too complex for any one person How to achieve course outcomes, work with a community partner, how to prepare students, how to manage logistics
  11. 11. + Examples  “Generic” issues: Program evaluation, work by similar organizations, future trends in the field  Siena Ed Program Evaluation: Social Sciences, Stats, etc.— Apply theory to practice  Embedded: Environmental Studies intro course
  12. 12. + How does this lead to Deep Partnerships?  Partnerships build over time—Around problem/issue solutions
  13. 13. + Within Course/Discipline  Colby Sawyer College—Psychology—theories of youth development and playground violence Needs analysis, program research, program selection and planning, implementation
  14. 14. + Across Disciplines  Unity House—Wraparound services in low income community  Problem to solve: How to improve student academic performance/ graduation? ----Initial connection through needs assessment for youth education—  Initial direct service—youth afterschool/tutoring (Education dept)  Leads to workshops on parenting (Psych, Counseling)  Adult literacy (Education, Psych)  Food and nutrition (Nutrition)  Fundraising, development and budget management (accounting)  Strategic Planning (Business and Management)
  15. 15. + How do we get from technocratic engagement to democratic?  PBSL alters the framework: Rather than how can faculty do SL in a course, to what role does a faculty (or dept. or institution) have with an issue/problem we aim to address?
  16. 16. + Activity 2 Development from initial project to deep  Project Generation Game  5 year path along each of these 4 dimensions from initial project to Deep, Democratic Civic Engagement.
  17. 17. + Closure: Book Proposal Ideas  Book Proposal Ideas: PBSL—Pathway to Democratic Civic Engagement