Best Practices for Implementing Academic Service-Learning within the Hybrid and Online Learning Environments
The purpose of this Discovery Session is to better understand if and how academic service-learning components were reconfigured to online formats in response to the COVID-19 crisis. From this information, we intend to explore various models of service-learning and best practices for implementation within the hybrid and online course formats.
The events of COVID-19 forced many faculty members to reconceptualize course delivery from the traditional face-to-face (F2F) learning environment to the online environment. For those faculty with academic service-learning as a required component of their course, the question for many became one of how do we salvage this? For some faculty teaching within the more traditional face-to-face environment the service-learning requirement had to be removed from their courses. However, a few faculty members were able to continue with their service-learning component despite institutional shutdown. Within this context, four main themes emerged:
A – Faculty continued with service-learning but scaled the project down
B – Faculty reconceptualized their service-learning projects from an onsite to an online model
C – Faculty reconfigured their service-learning assessment activities
D – Faculty made no changes as they have always taught online service-learning courses
The purpose of this collaborative Discovery Session project is to obtain a better understanding of the factors that contributed to educators’ implementation of academic service-learning by exploring if and how AS-L components were successfully reconfigured from the face-to-face (F2F) learning environment to hybrid and online formats in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Two research questions are posed: (a) How do we adjust our academic service-learning teaching pedagogy to an online model? And, (b) What are the best practices on how to convert or adjust an existing onsite service-learning project to the online learning environment. Answers to these questions will enable us to collect more information pertaining to the various types of hybrid and online service-learning models that are currently incorporated within institutions of higher education. From these pedagogical models, a series of case studies from a variety of academic disciplines outlining best practices for implementing service-learning within the online and/or hybrid course formats will be developed. But we need to gather more information.
With the uncertainty of COVID-19 many institutions of higher education are currently constructing plans on how to respond to potential future spikes amid the pandemic. Operating under the premise that a second wave of the pandemic will occur (such as in South Korea https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52845015) information gleaned from this collaborative Discovery Session project may provide others within the community, such as faculty and school administers, with additional ideas on how to make a positive impact on their local community by incorporating service-learning projects with the hybrid and online classroom environments. More importantly, attendees participating in this collaborative Discovery Session project will have the opportunity to contribute their own experiences and service-learning design considerations within the hybrid and/or online service-learning pedagogies by participating in an online survey, thereby creating a more robust resource of hybrid and online service-learning best practices. The ultimate goal in collecting these case studies is to move beyond best practices and develop a program theory of online academic service-learning within higher education.
The construction of an explicit program theory (Chen & Rossi, 1989) will be developed by evaluating the collected case studies through the lens of a theory-driven approach (Renger, 2010). The intent is to craft a new program theory within the context of the hybrid and online academic service-learning environments of higher education.
Viewed through the lens of program theory (Baldwin, Hutchinson, & Magnuson, 2004) this Discovery Session will focus on best practices in developing online service-learning opportunities on a course-be-course basis and how these are weaved together into effective policies for improved programmatic evaluation and student achievement. The value in developing a program theory for online academic service-learning within higher education is that it will provide a framework for practitioners to evaluate their own hybrid and online service-learning programs and improve upon desired student learning outcomes (Chen & Rossi, 1989; Sindani & Sechrest, 2011).
Baldwin, C., Hutchinson, S., & Magnuson, D. (2004). Program theory: A framework for theory-driven programming and evaluation. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 38(1), 16-31.
BBC World News – Asia. (2020). Coronavirus: South Korea closes schools again after biggest spike in weeks. May 29, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52845015
Chen, H.-T., & Rossi, P. H. (1989). Issues in the theory-driven perspective. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(4), 299–306. https://doi.org/10.1016/0149-7189(89)90046-3
Renger, R. (2010). Constructing and verifying program theory using source
documentation. The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 25(1), 51-67.
Sidani, S. & Sechrest, L. (1999). Putting program theory into operation. American Journal of Evaluation, 20(2), 227–238. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1098-2140(99)00022-3