[Photo by Patti] 

[Photo by Patti] 

Sample Conference Sessions


Tapping the Power of Theory to Enhance Assessment of Service-Learning -- Drawing on the recently released edited volume Research on Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Assessment (Clayton, Bringle, & Hatcher, 2013), in this interactive session we will discuss the use of theory to refine goals, guide design, and conceptualize and interpret evidence—in other words, to fully integrate assessment into service-learning. We will (a) examine the purposes and practices of assessment in service-learning through the lens of a conceptual model for research, (b) consider examples of theory-grounded assessment in service-learning (in multiple arenas, including student learning, community outcomes, and partnerships), and (c) determine relevant theory and generate associated assessment strategies for use in our own contexts.


“Engagement-Grounded” Teaching and Learning -- Service-learning is often lauded as part of higher education’s paradigmatic shift away from teacher-centered classrooms and, correspondingly, defined as a learner-centered pedagogy. At the same time, from its inception service-learning has been conceptualized as positioning all participants as learners and teachers; recent work explicitly adds co-generators of knowledge to the rich conception of identities to be held by all partners in the process. Perhaps, then, service-learning is leading ongoing paradigm shift—into what might be called “engagement-grounded” rather than “student-centered.” In this interactive session we will explore together the possibilities of framing teaching and learning as “engagement-grounded.” We will discuss (a) the civic learning we might seek to achieve; (b) the meaning and implications of positioning all participants as co-educators, co-learners, and co-generators of knowledge; and (c) the concrete tasks associated with bringing democratic engagement to life in the design and implementation of service-learning (and other) pedagogies.  The session will invite—and challenge—each of us to take on and to support one another in “co-” roles as we inquire together, share and critique our experiences, and contribute to emerging scholarship around democratic engagement.


Research on Faculty Learning about Community-Engaged Scholarship: Quantitative and Qualitative Investigation of Competency Development  -- Facilitators will share the process and results of investigating faculty competencies for community engaged scholarship. Methods include quantitative and qualitative analysis of participant responses to a competency-based self-assessment scale and a series of written reflection activities. Discussion will include technocratic vs. democratic orientations to engagement and accounting for "response shift bias" (the tendency to over-estimate one's competence on a pre-test, which can mask learning gains determined through pre/post instruments) through use of "then" (retrospective reporting of baseline competence) data. Participants will examine research design and data and will leave with sample competencies, assessment instruments, and data analysis methods



  • Part I: Introduction to Service-Learning and Critical Reflection -- Part I will engage participants in reflective examination of a conceptual framework for service-learning and a corollary model for critical reflection (the DEAL Model). In this context, we will explore possibilities for (1) establishing in our classrooms a shared understanding of service-learning and of critical reflection as counter-normative pedagogy, (2) designing well-integrated critical reflection strategies and mechanisms, and (3) defining and cultivating civic learning in service-learning. Participants will leave the session with sample critical reflection activities and tools to support their work as instructional designers and their students as service-learners.
  • Part II: Integrating Critical Reflection and Assessment to Enhance Learning -- Building on the discussion in Part I, this session will guide participants through a process of (1) articulating (academic and/or personal growth) learning goals and objectives, (2) designing critical reflection accordingly, and (3) integrating critical reflection with formative and summative assessment of learning. We will use tools grounded in Bloom’s Taxonomy and in Paul & Elder’s Standards of Critical Thinking that have been refined through several years of inter-institutional research. Participants will apply rubrics to and provide feedback on sample critical reflection products and will leave the session with sample rubrics, tools to support integrated course design, and with ideas for their own scholarship of teaching and learning

    Do Counter-Normative Pedagogies Have Threshold Concepts? -- We will apply the idea of threshold concepts not to disciplines but to pedagogies, using service-learning (SL) as our example. Positioning students, faculty, and community members as co-learners, SL requires and fosters shifts in perspective, practice, and identity that seem to point to threshold concepts associated with learning how to teach and learn (and serve) through this approach. Together we will hypothesize illustrative threshold concepts associated with learning and maximizing use of this counter-normative pedagogy, critically analyze use of this concept in this context, and consider implications for the design of SL and of associated faculty/staff development.


    Critically Examining the Use of Technology in University-Community Partnerships: Beyond the Hype -- In this interactive session, we will examine the ways in which technology (including the web, social media, and mobiles) can enable enhanced forms and expressions of partnership, redefine and nurture community, and allow actors to create and deepen relationships. Examining case studies from a variety of contexts, including through the lens of core concepts such as reciprocity, we will co-generate a critical understanding of the democratizing potential of new technologies, the conditions under which that potential is and is not fulfilled, and implications for how individuals, higher education institutions, and community organizations connect and collaborate.


    Designing Service-Learning with Assessment in Mind (pre-conference workshop) -- Service-learning is a "high impact pedagogy," with potentially significant outcomes not only for students but also for faculty, educational institutions, community organizations, community members, and the range of partnerships at its heart. Intentional design and a scholarly, improvement-oriented approach are key to producing and assessing both processes and outcomes. In this session we will explore a precise yet flexible conceptualization of service-learning that can guide customized design and assessment of the pedagogy. We will identify the types of outcomes at stake for the full range of constituents and examine research-grounded tools that can support the design of critical reflection and partnerships with assessment in mind.


    Research Service-Learning: Advancing Nonprofit Education, Scholarship, and Practice -- Just as teaching and research in general can come together to improve understanding and practice, so too can the pedagogy of service-learning and the process of community-engaged research be approached deliberatively and integratively to advance a wide range of objectives among practitioner-scholars. What role might “research service-learning” play in nonprofit education, scholarship, and practice and what principles of good practice might guide its implementation toward maximum impact? This interactive session will offer a framework for conceptualizing the pedagogy of service-learning as “research service-learning” and will provide and support participants in critically analyzing a range of examples in the context of nonprofit studies at both the undergraduate and graduate level. We will consider the possibilities for designing research service-learning in such a way as to avoid common pitfalls and capitalize on its mutually-transformative potential