Assessing Institutional Support for Service-Learning: A Case Study of Organizational Sensemaking

By Chadwick, Scott A.; Pawlowski, Donna R. | Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Assessing Institutional Support for Service-Learning: A Case Study of Organizational Sensemaking


Chadwick, Scott A., Pawlowski, Donna R., Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning


This paper provides an example of how institutional service-learning assessment data can be used to drive organizational change. Furco's (1999) self-assessment rubric for the institutionalization of service-learning in higher education is used in modified form as the instrument through which organizationallevel assessments were made. The process of organizational change over time is reported through the lens of Weick's (1995) Organizational Information Theory and specifically the double interact, comprised of act, response, and adjustment as organizational members reduce their uncertainty and make sense of organizational action and communication.

**********

The need to assess service-learning cannot be escaped. Whether to satisfy regional accreditors' demands, provide data demonstrating programmatic efficacy, or measure student progress and teaching effectiveness, assessment's place in higher education is becoming solidified. Over the past 20 years, the assessment focus has largely been on student learning outcomes (Marchel, 2004), and rightly so. Many universities have designed their assessment practices based on the work of experts such as Banta (1996), Cross and Angelo (1988), and Walvoord and Anderson (1998).

However, assessing service-learning brings into play not just student learning outcomes, but also faculty, community partners, and the institution itself (Driscoll, Holland, Gelmon, & Kerrigan, 1996; Strand, Marullo, Cutforth, Stoecker, & Donohue, 2003). Bringle, Phillips, and Hudson (2004) detail the extant instruments that can be used to assess students' experiences in service-learning. Berman (1999) and Heffernan (2001) show how to embed assessment into service-learning course design. The positive effects of service-learning on students are well documented (Ash, Clayton, & Atkinson, 2005; Eyler, Giles, & Gray, 2000).

As the assessment of student learning matures, more attention is being paid to assessing the effects of service-learning on the community partners (Bushouse, 2005; Jorge, 2003; Oates & Leavitt, 2003) and institutions as a whole. Gelmon, Holland, Driscoll, Spring, and Kerrigan (2001) argue that assessing institutional factors makes sense because those "factors affect decision-making at every level and every stage of operations ... service-learning programs are always strongly influenced by their institutional environments ... (and) the impact of organizational context on service-learning and engagement endeavors means that systematic assessment of institutional factors can play an extremely important role in facilitating campus commitment by providing relevant and neutral data to inform decision-making and reduce obstacles" (p. 107). Bell, Furco, Ammon, Muller, and Sorgen (2000) found that institutional support for service-learning is second only to faculty support for service-learning in terms of what is the strongest predictor of the institutionalizing of service-learning. Thus, it is important to conduct assessment on various institutional factors of service-learning.

A critical concern, however, of service-learning research, and in particular assessment, is the paucity of rigorous processes and theoretical grounding of research studies (Bringle & Hatcher, 2000; Kiely, 2005). This is in part because service-learning is a fairly new discipline and that we do not have a great deal of original theories related to service-learning. Ziegert and McGoldrick (2004) argue that we are at a "methodological crossroads," which can be an exciting place to be; but it does mean however, that we need to demonstrate our rigor and highlight theoretical underpinnings when we conduct research in service-learning to enhance our scholarly legitimacy across disciplines. Service-learning scholars recognize that some disciplines' theories (Bringle & Hatcher, 2000; Gelmon, 2000; Giles & Eyler, 1994) have been used to link with service-learning, at least primarily in terms of experiential learning and educational models.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Assessing Institutional Support for Service-Learning: A Case Study of Organizational Sensemaking
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.