Implementing Service-Learning Through an Online Graduate Course in Instructional Design

Implementing Service-Learning Through an Online Graduate Course in Instructional Design

Jesús H. Trespalacios (Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA), Tera Armstrong (Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA) and Cynthia Goodwill (Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJOPCD.2017100105
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Abstract

The following paper describes a collaborative service-learning project done in an online graduate class on instructional design. With the help of the university's service-learning program, a community issue was identified related to encouraging underserved populations to pursue STEM careers. Graduate students developed a data analysis from surveying high school students, designed and implemented a website where information about specific careers can be found, and evaluated the project with the help of a high school science teacher. The project also required that the graduate students reflected about the service activity to gain a deeper understanding of course objectives. The course instructor and graduate students' experiences during this service-learning project are discussed.
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Introduction

Ertmer and Cennamo (1995) asked the following questions: What is the most effective way to prepare instructional designers to become “professionals”? Which instructional methods are most instrumental in fostering the development of “expert” designers? In a recent review, Tracey and Bolin (2014) summarized that college programs traditionally use instructional design (ID) models and incorporate project work to prepare new instructional designers. However, there are existing problems during this educational process which are well documented. Novice designers tend to use models literally instead of adapting them to particular circumstances (Gibbons & Yanchar, 2010). Additionally, students tend to focus on superficial details instead of understanding the problem based on principles as experts do (Ertmer & Stepich, 2005). Kali, Goodyear, and Markauskaite (2011) stated that novice designers did not spend enough time analyzing the problem, pay sufficient attention to alternative solutions, have the flexibility to interpret learning situations, create effective representations of the problems and solutions, and reflect on their design work or evaluation process.

One step forward is to offer authentic learning experiences where students can experience the ill-structured nature of design problems (Jonassen, 2011). Based on the work of different educational theorists (Dewey, 1938; Kolb, 1984; Freire, 1994, 1998, 2001), service-learning provides true, long-lasting education and learning for those students who are actively involved in their own learning and experience mutual exchange with people and the environment (Stefaniak, 2015; Whitley, 2014).

In a frequently cited definition, Bringle and Hatcher (1996) defined,

We view service learning as a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility (p. 222).

Thus, the intention is to support learning by providing opportunities where students are active participants in organized experiences that meet community needs (Waldner, 2014). The work reported herein is the result of an optional service-learning project offered to online students in ID who volunteered to participate. Two graduate students had the opportunity to interact with a real client and followed the ADDIE approach developing a front-end analysis, instructional materials, and an evaluation procedure. In the following sections, the background on service-learning in online environments, the context of the service-learning experience, and lessons learned by the students and the instructor are discussed.

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