Service-based learning as a form of community engagement in achieving student outcomes : the experience of an East African university .
Kitawi, Alfred Kirigha
MetadataShow full item record
The modern university is expected to be many conflicting things at the same time: conservative and radical; critical and supportive; competitive and collegial; autonomous and accountable; traditional and innovative; local and international (Watson, 2007). These expectations arise from different stakeholders within the community (with different needs) and from these expectations arise different forms of engagement. Community engagement, whether in the form of service-learning, public scholarship, or community-based research, is a wonderfully complex and situated practice that forces students to rethink their normal patterns of working. Community engagement has the goal of providing faculty, students, and education managers with an additional set of tools to achieve their ends (Butin, 2010). This chapter will explore some of the key concepts around community engagement, particularly service learning as one aspect of this. The background for understanding service-learning as part of a higher education landscape in Africa is also explored to contextualise the research. Using data gathered from 400 students who complete compulsory service-learning work as part of their undergraduate programme at Strathmore University in Kenya, it seeks to answer the following questions: What is the effect of communities’ issues in realising student service-based learning outcomes? What are the dominant community activities students engage in to realize student service-based learning outcomes? What are some of the service-based learning outcomes? Which students’ skills are relevant in achieving service-based learning outcomes? Few studies have presented the effect of service-learning on educational outcomes, including organizational arrangements that facilitate partnerships (Preece & Manicom, 2014). This study examines the effect community service-learning had on this cohort of 400 students who are about to complete their university studies. The outcomes will give insights into effectiveness of service-learning activities and aspects which universities may consider in improving student experiences.