Community service-learning (CSL) programs are proliferating in Canadian higher education. University programs promote students’ experiential learning in community as part of a course; students most often engage in unpaid work in not-for-profit organizations and reflect on that experience in relation to their classroom learning. However, programs tend to occupy an ambivalent position in higher education—they are seen as important, but at the same time are often under-resourced and treated as marginal to universities’ core activities. This paper argues that the contradictory position of service-learning is partly related to the bifurcated view of theoretical and practical knowledge perpetuated in knowledge economy discourse. Drawing on interviews with service-learning program leaders, it explores their responses to knowledge economy discourse. Findings suggest varying levels of resistance; some leaders comply with university pressures to engage in transactional approaches to service-learning, while others seek to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge through the creation of hybrid learning networks. This paper outlines the reasons for and implications of different responses and suggests that socio-cultural learning theories can inform pedagogical approaches within programs.
Vocations and Learning – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 26, 2016
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