Assessment of international service-learning and community engagement: Case studies at the University of Virginia

Loren Intolubbe-Chmil, Study Abroad Advisor, University of Virginia []
Robert Swap, Associate Professor, University of Virginia []
Kent Wayland, Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of Virginia []
Joseph Francis, Program Director, University of Venda []
Jessica Ohana Gonzalez, SLC Guatemala Coordinator, University of Virginia []
Anselmo G. Canfora, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia []
Susanna Williams, Program Coordinator, University of Virginia []
James Ngundi, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Virginia []
Caroline Berinyuy, Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Virginia []
David Burt, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia []
Carol Anne Spreen, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia []


Keywords: Assessment, program evaluation, international, mixed-methods

Track: Program evaluation and assessment

Format: Team presentation

Date & time: Friday 9:30-10:40
Location: Salon 8

As part of a larger institutional journey towards developing better practice of international service-learning (ISL), we share research findings from three academic ISL programs at the University of Virginia: the Eastern/Southern African Networks and Associations program, the Initiative reCOVER Program, and the UVA-Guatemala Initiative. We focus on assessing the impacts of these programs over multi-year periods on crossing boundaries between campus and community partners, faculty and students, disciplines, and across geographical and cultural contexts. Our presentation involves US and international faculty and community representatives to highlight research findings from multiple perspectives.

As internationalization continues to shape discourse in higher education, efforts to understand and assess this pedagogy and practice have followed. At the same time, campus-community partnerships are well represented in current trends, and are the basis upon which community engagement is currently understood in higher education. A focus on this type of inquiry-based learning with the community emerges from paradigms which advocate for cultivating habits of social responsibility as part of post-secondary education (Annette, 2000; Kezar, Chambers, and Burkhardt, 2005).

Quantitative analysis is conducted through the use of descriptive statistics and paired sample t-test of survey questions. Qualitative analysis utilizes an interpretive approach, characterized by thematic coding, member checks, and multiple triangulation and reflexive strategies. The analysis is in collaboration and conversation with our international partners and in this presentation we will offer a range of preliminary findings.

The component that most defines these efforts is the growing effort to bring the voices of our foreign partners here, where they can have a direct impact on our students. Giving them voice here – allowing them to leave their footprint on our campus and community, instead of vice-versa – amplifies their contribution to and influence on ourselves, our students, and our joint projects. We stress to our students that it is not doing for, but working with and learning from that is important.

Annette, J. (2002). Service learning in an international context. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 8, Winter 2002, pp. 83-93.

Kezar, A.J., Chambers, T.C., & Burkhardt, J.C. (2005). Higher education for the public good. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.

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