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Reading Reflections

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My collaborators and I are trying to determine whether there is a synergistic benefit to student learning of combining novel research with service learning when both are focused on the same community issue in the same course. In other words, is novel research a more effective teaching/learning strategy when coupled with relevant service learning and/or is service learning a more effective teaching/learning strategy when coupled with relevant novel research in the same course?


I find it difficult to define this study by a single one of the taxonomic categories of inquiry described by Pat Hutchings. Although we are clearly investigating the impact and effectiveness of a teaching strategy (what works) and there are elements of this question that indicate what the approach looks like (what is) (i.e. combining novel research with service learning to address the same community issue, all within a single structured course), I think this specific research question best qualifies as a vision of the possible.  This “synergy” question arose from assessment of a pedagogy we call Application-Based Service Learning (ABSL), which combines novel research and service learning, both focused on the same community issue, within a structured class. ABSL strives to teach science students about all aspects of authentic research, while also promoting a sense of civic engagement.  Our assessment of ABSL, itself, has elements of formulating a new conceptual framework, but is primarily a study of what works and what is. We have assessed many aspects of this pedagogy, including the value of the novel research component and the value of the service learning component. Analysis of student feedback regarding these learning strategies, individually, revealed what appears to be a synergistic benefit of having the two strategies coupled. The students’ perceptions seemed to demonstrate a better understanding and deeper engagement in the process of novel research as a solution to a community problem when students experienced the problem directly through their community service. Similarly, the students seemed to better understand and be more engaged in their service learning when they also addressed the community problem through their novel laboratory research in the classroom. Thus, I believe the research question I’m addressing at this Research Residency qualifies as vision of the possible, which Hutchings describes as “an emotional dimension of learning…[that] helps students see themselves as part of the process of understanding the world around them and their position in it.”


ABSL combines several proven effective teaching and learning strategies in each course. Thus, assessment of ABSL is what Randy Bass refers to as an investigation and analysis of the complexities of teaching and learning. In Bass’ discussion of Shulman’s five elements of the teaching process, two of these seemed to apply most directly to my research question of whether there is a synergistic effect of combined novel research with service learning in an ABSL course. Specifically, Shulman states that teaching includes certain outcomes from that complex process and those outcomes necessitate some kind of analysis. Bass also refers to Daniel Bernstin’s description of a “transactional relation between scholarly activity [that the students engage in] and the results of that activity [student learning outcomes] as a benchmark of excellence in scholarly practice.” This is exactly the kind of relationship between what the students do in our ABSL courses (novel research AND service learning, focused on the same issue, at the same time) and the apparent value-added benefits of the combination that we believe may be even better than the proven beneficial practices of including novel research OR service learning in a course. We hope to assess, directly, what our current data suggests may be changes in student understanding of the processes and value of novel research and community service and, as Bass states, students’ “perceptions about the components of the course that led to that change.” Although our assessment of the ABSL pedagogy has included skills assessment and content retention, we hope, through this Research Residency, to develop an affective assessment tool to examine what Bass calls the “development of personal values and transformation of whole knowledge paradigms” with regards to our students’ understanding of how scientists conduct real research and how a scientist’s work can interface with community partners to solve a community problem.

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15.23 kB14:13, 9 Jun 2014ksherwoodActions
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How do I get this to save? I have input this same document last night and again today many, many times. If I hit the SAVE button, the little icon just spins and spins and tells me to wait while it saves. If I just log out after I put in my document, it doesn't save and my Reading Reflectoins page is blank.

I am hoping that by adding a comment, it will somehow, mysteriously save the actual document on the Reading Reflections page.
Posted 12:55, 9 Jun 2014
Nope. That didn't work either. I'll try to hit SAVE again.
Posted 12:57, 9 Jun 2014
I read through Mary Pat's Wiki Guide instructions and it seems I am doing everything properly. It just is taking ffffffooooooorrrrrreeeeeevvvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr to Save.

I left to take a shower. I nice, warm, relaxing shower that might keep me from writing swear symbols at this computer. I am back ....after 25 minutes, the little icon is still spinning and cheerfully requesting that I wait while it SAVEs my Reading Reflections.

Once again....I give up.
Posted 13:34, 9 Jun 2014
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