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Oklahoma City Presentation

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by Lorie Cook-Benjamin on 14 March 2014

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Transcript of Oklahoma City Presentation

Feasibility of Virtual Service Learning:
A Pilot Study

2014 Annual
Civic/Community Engagement Workshop
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

Presenters:
Drs. Lorie Cook-Benjamin and Chapman Rackaway

Purpose and Definitions
The purpose of the study was to assess virtual students’ attitudes regarding discipline-based service-learning within the virtual environment.

Virtual students - Completing ONLY virtual classes (FHSU’s Virtual College )

Service-learning - “A teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities”. (http://www.servicelearning.org/what-service-learning)

Review of the Literature
Lindsay (2012) found students show an increase in discipline-specific knowledge, higher-order thinking skills, expanded career connections, and improved persistence to graduation, particularly for low-income and minority students due to SL participation.

Examples of SL benefits include students’ greater personal transformation when involved in service-learning as compared to courses where service-learning was not present (Holland & Gelmon, 1998).

Literature regarding the benefits of service-learning (SL) for on-campus students is fairly abundant, but lacking for virtual students.
Corporation for National and Community Service. National service-learning clearinghouse (Retrieved http://www.servicelearning.org/what-service-learning).

Holland, B. A., & Gelmon, S. B. (1998, October). “The state of the ‘engaged campus’: What have we learned about building and sustaining university and community partnerships”. AAHE Bulletin , 3-6.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lindsay, M. (2012, March 28). The ins and outs of service-learning: An interactive primer. Paper presented at the Kansas Campus Compact Workshop, Hays, KS.

Methodology

The participants were enrolled in virtual sections of the
Interest Groups and Lobbying course or the Diverse Learners course
where they completed a service-learning project.

Reflection was used in both courses to collect qualitative data
regarding the service-learning project.

To collect quantitative data, an eight question Likert-scale survey,
which took approximately 5-10 minutes to complete,
was administered in the first three weeks and the
last two weeks of the spring 2013 semester.

The survey’s questions focused on previous participation in service-learning,
perceived benefits of service-learning, and demographic information.

A T-test was used to determine statistical differences
between the pre- and post-test administration samples.


VSL in Political Science
Phase 1: Initial Decisions

Using a discussion board, students will deliberate issues important to them. The interest group can be created around any issue or policy area. Students are expected to identify and advocate for our group to select one particular issue or policy area that the class interest group will be centered around. Using the discussion forum, students will discuss the issues and should come to a consensus on the issue the group will focus on. The group will focus only on one issue or policy area. If the students do not reach consensus by February 12, the instructor will post an online vote among three issues. The plurality vote winner will then be chosen. Participation in section 1 is worth 25 points.

Reflection questions:
How did you decide on the issue you wanted to pursue?
Do you believe you presented the case for your issue to the group effectively? Why or why not?
How satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the decision-making process?
How satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the decision of the group?
What lessons did this phase of the project teach you about group decision-making?


Phase 2: Group Planning

After the issue is selected, the class must make a number of other important decisions. The students will use another board for this set of questions. Participation in section 2 is worth 25 points.
Who will be the group’s leaders?
What leadership positions must be filled and what roles will they fill?
Will the group be local, state, federal, or international in scope?
What will the group’s leadership structure be?
How will the group finance itself?
Will the group partner with any other entities, such as federal or state organizations?
What are the group’s goals for
Membership
Operating capital
Policy
Reflection questions:
Did the group struggle to identify a leader?
Has the group targeted the right level of government for the issue/policy goals it created?
How well organized for action do you believe the group is? What changes would you make to the group’s organization, if any?
How reasonable are the group’s goals?
What is your role and how do you plan on contributing to the group’s success?

Phase 3: Action Item Development

In the final two phases of the group project, we will create and deploy at least one action item to achieve the group’s goal(s). The students will decide on one particular project. The project must be oriented toward achieving at least one substantive goal as agreed upon in Phase 2. The project must satisfy the following criteria:
Feasible to create in a short amount of time
Relevant to the group’s goals
Measureable for impact
The students will discuss this on a specific board. Participation in section 3 is worth 25 points.
Reflection questions:
Did I contribute substantively to the planning phase of the project? What would you have done differently if given the opportunity?

Phase 4: Action Item Deployment

With the action item for the group decided, students will complete the activity by implementing the project. Students will decide on roles to be filled, but students in leadership roles will make final assignments of action items to all students. Students will discuss on the board, but must provide evidence that they carried out specific assignments through an appropriate method. Possible verification methods include correspondence, photos, video, or another method approved by the professor. Participation in this section is worth 25 points.
Reflection questions:
Describe the implementation of the group’s plan. Did it proceed as you expected it to? Why, or why not?
What did you contribute to the group?
How satisfied are you with the group’s work?
Was the group work a success? Why, or why not?
What lessons did you learn throughout this project?

Phase 4 Continued

Implemented in Four Phases
Using a discussion board, students will deliberate issues important to them. The interest group can be created around any issue or policy area. Students are expected to identify and advocate for our group to select one particular issue or policy area that the class interest group will be centered around. Using the discussion forum, students will discuss the issues and should come to a consensus on the issue the group will focus on. The group will focus only on one issue or policy area. If the students do not reach consensus by February 12, the instructor will post an online vote among three issues. The plurality vote winner will then be chosen. Participation in section 1 is worth 25 points.
Reflection questions:
How did you decide on the issue you wanted to pursue?
Do you believe you presented the case for your issue to the group effectively? Why or why not?
How satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the decision-making process?
How satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the decision of the group?
What lessons did this phase of the project teach you about group decision-making?
How well does the action plan synch with the group’s goals?
Describe the decision-making process for group goals. Was the process as smooth as you expected? What problems, if any, did you encounter?
What role will you play in the implementation phase of the project?
What problems do you expect to encounter as the group implements the project?

Student Feedback – Political Science

One of the major problems of this assignment was that it was a virtual class. We don’t know each other so we have no idea of the strengths, weaknesses, or interests of the other group members. We also don’t know the schedules of our classmates and when they could work on the project or how much time they could put into the project. The virtual classroom seems like an inappropriate place for this type of assignment.
This project has proven to me the difficulty in leading a group online. This was my first experience leading an online group of this size, and I am truly thankful that I had two co-leaders to assist.
I honestly expected more people to want to step into the leadership role.
Conducting this project in a virtual class posed a lot of challenges, as actual discussion is very difficult in our class forum. It seems impolite and uncomfortable to disagree with someone on the discussion board, whereas in a face-to-face format, some disagreement is expected. Most of the posts in planning this project seemed to be one or two people making suggestions and everyone else agreeing. There was very little critique or discussion. This made active leaders even more important; while choosing leaders was simple, encouraging participation was much more difficult.


VSL in Teacher Education

Virtual course called Diverse Learners
This course has been offered virtually for five years
Required course of both lower and upper-division undergraduate students
The service-learning project was organized using Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Theory with four stages - reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, active experimentation, and concrete experiences.

Overview of
Diverse Learners SL Project

A PowerPoint which contained information about Volcanes Primary School and the local community as well as recorded sessions of the Volcanes children during instruction were shared with the participants.

Utilizing the stages of Kolb's theory, participants were asked to complete a reflection form that applied specified course content. This form was administered twice. (Handout)

A third reflection form asked participants to reflect on their SIOP Take-Home Activity in terms of perceived SL benefits. It was administered at the conclusion of the service-learning project. (Handout)  
Results of Third Reflection - 1st Question
"Connecting Course Content to Real-life Experiences"

Results of Third Reflection – 2nd Question
"Enhance Knowledge to Meet Needs of ALL Students"

Results of Third Reflection – 3rd Question
"Hold High Expectations for Students with Diverse Backgrounds"

Results of Third Reflection – 4th Question
"Comfortable with Students
from Diverse Backgrounds"

SURVEY RESULTS
SURVEY RESULTS

Collegiate SL Experience

Survey RESULTS

In-Person Vs. Virtual Experience

SURVEY RESULTS

SL Benefits

Survey RESULTS

Year in College

SURVEY RESULTS

Gender

SURVEY RESULTS

Ethnicity

Survey suggests virtual learners are not provided opportunities for
service learning commensurate with those of their in-person cohort
Multiple discussion and communication venues must be available
Synchronous communication sessions should be required - PLS
Improve role development descriptions and create more specific roles - PLS
Require reflection at multiple points throughout the semester rather than only at the end
Lack of racial diversity reinforces need for these activities
Virtual service learning provides opportunity to reach an underserved population of students
Lack of high school opportunities for service learning also reinforce need to provide opportunities at the college level

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS

Questions & References
Corporation for National and Community Service. National service-learning clearinghouse (Retrieved http://www.servicelearning.org/what-service-learning).
Holland, B. A., & Gelmon, S. B. (1998, October). “The state of the ‘engaged campus’: What have we learned about building and sustaining university and community partnerships”. AAHE Bulletin , 3-6.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the
source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Lindsay, M. (2012, March 28). The ins and outs of service-learning: An interactive primer. Paper presented at the Kansas Campus Compact Workshop, Hays, KS.


Presentation Overview
By the end of this presentation, you will be informed about...

A service-learning study and its results
Two, virtual service-learning projects
Implications for further study

Interest Groups and Lobbying Class

First virtual offering of the class

Mixed upper-division undergraduate and graduate class

Previous in-person iterations included “DIY Interest Group”
Thank You!
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