Community Service Learning: A Course Worth Pursuing

Friday, March 16, 2012
Poster Area 2 (Foyer Outside Exhibit Hall C) (Convention Center)
M. Louise Humbert, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Background/Purpose Community Service Learning is an innovative pedagogical approach that seeks to link resource rich environments (a University) with organizations or communities in need of such resources (schools, community agencies etc). This approach to learning is often used in the social sciences and is emerging as an approach worth pursuing and investigating in physical education teacher education. The purpose of this study was to develop a community service learning course for undergraduate Kinesiology/Education students. The course was centered in an elementary school in the inner city of a Canadian prairie city. In addition this study sought to understand the experiences of students enrolled in this course.

Method During the design of the course the professors engaged in consultations with community leaders, Aboriginal elders and teachers. Students kept reflexive journals, participated in individual and group interviews and created a legacy project that was left with the school.

Analysis/Results Data was reviewed and clustered into, issues and themes.

Conclusions The professors reported that a key component of the course was developing trusting relationships with school and community representatives. Work with community officials such as police officers, youth at risk coordinators, and health care workers contributed greatly to the success of the course. Students explained that the CSL experience provided them with many opportunities to link their course knowledge and past experience with the current realities of children living in the inner city. Many felt that the course was “life changing” as they experienced teaching and learning in an environment unknown to many undergraduate students.

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