At the cross-roads of dissonance: Border pedagogy and meaning-makingof service-learning in India
Dilafruz Williams, Professor, Portland State University [williamsdi@pdx.edu]
Thomas Van Cleave, Program Director, International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership [tjv@pdx.edu]

At_crossroads_of_dissonance.jpg

Keywords: Border crossing, meaning-making, dissonance, international service-learning, India

Track: Student development and learning

Format: Research paper

Date & time: Friday 9:30-10:40

Location: Wilson

Summary:
This paper uses the frameworks of border crossing and border pedagogy (Anzaldúa, 1987; Giroux, 1992; Taylor, 2002) to identify ways in which students construct understandings after a service-learning experience in India. Data are drawn from 24 Portland State University students in two cohorts (2010 and 2011): Daily written reflections and oral discussions in India; evaluative feedback given to host institution on final day; and students’ written papers after re-entering their home context. Using thematic content analysis, the study reveals a complex meaning-making process for students, one that integrates cognitive and emotional dissonance along with intercultural understanding and questioning of taken-for-granted assumptions.

Experiences of serving abroad create dissonance for students at the host site and on re-entry into their American context/life. It is at the cross-roads of dissonance that significant learning occurs. For this, space must be given to students to make meaning of what appears to be a life-transforming experience. Given the growth in international service-learning programs, it is critical that instructors recognize no matter how much they might “prepare” students for a foreign context, it is through structured and open reflection, sharing of feelings, and critical engagement, that students process their learning and experience and develop depth of cross-cultural understandings.

References:
Aguilar, A., & Gingerich. (2002). Experiential pedagogy for study abroad: Educating for global citizenship. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 8, 41-82.

Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: The new Mestiza. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute books.

Annette, J. (2001). Service learning in an international context. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 8, 83-93.

Collier, P., & Williams, D. (2005). Reflection in action: The learning-doing relationship. In C. Cress, P. Collier, & V. Reitenauer (Eds.), Learning Through Serving: A Student Handbook for Service-Learning Across the Disciplines (pp. 83-97). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Crabtree, R. (2008). Theoretical foundations for international service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 15(1), 18-36.

Eyler, J., & Giles, D. E. (1999). Where’s the learning in service-learning? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Giroux, H. (1992). Border crossings: Cultural workers and the politics of education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hayes, E., & Cuban, S. (1997). Border pedagogy: A critical framework for service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 4, 45-57.

Jay, G. (2008). Service learning, multiculturalism, and the pedagogies of difference. Pedagogy, 8(2), 255-281.

Montrose, L. (2002). International study and experiential learning: The academic context. Frontier: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 1-15.

Parker, B., & Dautoff, D. (2007). Service-learning and study abroad: Synergistic learning opportunities. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 13(2), 40-53.

Taylor, J. (2002). Metaphors we serve by: Investigating the conceptual metaphors framing national and community service and service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 45-57.


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