Back to the Future: Community Engagement and Metagogy

Back to the Future: Community Engagement and Metagogy

Gabriele I.E. Strohschen (DePaul University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8488-9.ch012

Abstract

This chapter corroborates competence-based and social-situational educational practices with the principles of Blended Shore Education (BSE) and Metagogy. These two theorems emerged from several action research projects that engaged Chicago community members, university students, and educators from around the world. The principles, tenets, and descriptions of applied instructional methods in the context of civic and social engagement projects demonstrate how teaching and learning praxes and curricula and program design can be achieved by and with the learners, by the university, and by the community stakeholders to result in relevant and meaningful education models in higher education.
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Introduction

At times, especially at those times when a society is in flux, confusion prevails and generally results in the retrenching of mindsets. Adult Education endeavors have been no exception to such communal psycho-socio behavior over the decades in the USA. Yet, DePaul University established a “new, experimental unit of study” to be called the “Experimental School of DePaul University, unless someone thinks of a more appropriate name” (Richardson, 1971). In 1972, DePaul University in Chicago trail-blazed an approach to education for adults in its undergraduate, and later its graduate programs. The concept, initiated by Vincentian priest Fr. Richardson, was inspired by the Zeitgeist of the time, which opposed conventional banking education as it was critiqued by Freire, (1970); and it built upon the long-standing tradition of democratic ideals and critical reflection in education that Dewey espoused (1938). In the words of the Rev. John T. Richardson, the first objective of this school was:

To shape units and programs of study to meet the distinctive needs of particular groups of persons. This objective assumes that over and above the purposes now served by the University's various academic programs there are needs for specially tailored study which is different from existing programs and is subject to change that is as rapid as changes in the social, economic, and humanistic environment. In traditional academic programs the student is expected to develop predetermined competencies; in this unit the programs are expected to be formed to fit the competencies of a group of students’ needs. (1971)

Hence, a college within the University, called the School for New Learning (SNL), was grounded in the emerging education philosophies of the time, primarily experiential lean ring theory. (Kolb, 1984), the assessment of prior learning, and competence-based education within student-designed curricula. A paradigm for educating adults, SNL survived under the leadership of its founders and early leaders. However, as higher education institutions sought economic survival, in part by entering the arena of workforce development, conventional instructional approaches veered off those earlier successful innovations that had combined the liberal arts with preparatory and continuing professional study.

Conventional higher education approaches date back to the early 6th Century, and current-day North American university programs are still modeled after those of the cathedral schools and monasteries of the Middle Ages (Begley & Koterski, 2005). Today, few university degree programs offer alternatives to traditional higher education models, even with curricula and delivery methods based on their interpretations of andragogy (Knowles 1970, 1980, 1977). Perhaps, universities risk non-accreditation were they to color too much outside of the lines of conventional program designs and content; and sticking to conventions in practices reverberates in the expectations of employers, students, and private and public funders. And so, the emerging education model of the visionary priests at DePaul University was not preserved over the decades. At DePaul University, too, eventually the resultant mission creep gave way to retrench education programming to the conventions of the academy.

In such social contexts (Jarvis, 1987), more often than not do we forego the possibilities that are found in the knowledge and practices in higher education around the world or outside of the ivory tower among our own communities. Although models for Universities of Applied Sciences (e.g., the German Fachhochschule) have existed all along, by and large the USAsian higher education industry perpetuated conventions in the development and delivery of education and training programs into the 21st Century. And few are the institutions of higher education that collaboratively design programs and learning activities with stakeholders not among their midst.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Student-Directed Program Design: Education programs wherein the particular content, learning activities, and learning products are co-designed between student and teacher and validated with individual learning contracts. Such programs are not pre-designed by faculty within an institution and may include other stakeholder’s input.

Community-Based Learning Projects: A teaching strategy that bridges academic theory and authentic practice in real-world settings.

Metagogy: “The term given by Strohschen and Elazier to the inclusive approach to instruction by, with, and for student and teacher that iteratively moves on a spectrum of dependent/more directive to interdependent/less directive instructional approaches and relationships (2009)” (Strohschen, 2011).

Emancipatory Education: The concept embraces the key principles of Freire’s early work that focuses on respect for disparate values, developing content by and with stakeholders, developing consciousness of one’s reality in given social contexts, generating instruction al content from lived experiences, and the eradication of dominant power and positionality of the teacher in the learning processes.

Critical Reflection: The concept has its roots in critical theory as much as in tenets of experiential learning. It is a key process the practice of action learning, such as in CBE methods and socially-situated learning activities.

Blended Shore Education: It is a framework that guides educators in developing successful collaborative, interdependent program development and delivery practices across cultures and nations.

Competence-Based Education: Competency-based learning refers to systems of instruction, and assessment, that is based on based on criterion-referenced evaluation of knowledge and skills.

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