eService-Learning: Bridging Online Graduate Students' Sense of Belonging With Community Engagement

eService-Learning: Bridging Online Graduate Students' Sense of Belonging With Community Engagement

Mandi M. Laurie (The University of Texas at Tyler, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2914-0.ch005


The service-learning pedagogy has flourished in popularity and student outcomes, and with the online student population expanding, institutions of higher learning must develop programs with similar content across both face-to-face and distance-learning applications. Institutions are using eService-Learning (eS-L) programs to address this divide. Commonly reported service-learning outcomes include student's sense of belonging and community engagement, and this chapter aims to present a case with similar outcomes for graduate-level students enrolled in a distance learning course with a substantive service-learning component.
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Service-learning has its roots in Dewey’s (1933) Program for Educational and Social Reform: experiential learning, reflection, and reciprocal learning (Champagne, 2006). Dewey posited (1933) experiential learning would meet societal needs while also encouraging students to connect these issues with classroom learning for a deeper understanding of the material. He believed traditional classroom environments failed to create this student engagement within their local communities. Dewey (1933) argued that in order to truly understand something, one must spend ample time reflecting upon the topic. The final piece of Dewey’s trifecta was reciprocal learning: learning was multi-directional and involved students, teachers, and the organization in which acts of service occurred.

Sigmon (1975; 1979) built his three principles of Service-Learning upon Dewey’s (1933) Program for Educational and Social Reform and Greenleaf’s (1977) model of Servant Leadership. Working through Greenleaf’s (1977) Servant Leadership tenets, Sigmon (1975; 1979) developed his principles of Service-Learning:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reciprocal Learning: The process in which the teacher becomes the learner and the learner becomes the teacher.

Institutional Community Engagement: Universities offer their resources (in the case of eService-Learning, students and their learned skills) to address issues and problems in the community.

Knowledge Application: The ability to transfer knowledge across settings, to apply learned material to real-life applications.

Engagement: Student belonging requires ongoing engagement activities which entail sense making of learned materials that in turn lead to a sustained identity.

Scholarship of Engagement: Scholarship of Engagement creates a relationship between theory and practice which encourages learners to apply knowledge in order to move between the realms of theory and practice.

Experiential Learning: The process of learning through experience, with learning occurring after reflecting upon learned materials.

Reflection: The student learner reflecting upon the Service-Learning/eService-Learning experience to build connections between academic content and the eService-Learning experience.

eService Learning: An educational experience for online or distance students which leads to academic course credit, allowing students to participate in activities that benefit the community.

Alignment: The synchronization of student academic endeavors across learner group activities with learner output that culminates in a shared outcome.

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