Organizational Development Students as Engaged Learners and Reflective Practitioners: The Role of Service Learning in Teaching OD

By Thomas, Kecia M.; Landau, Harriet | Organization Development Journal, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Organizational Development Students as Engaged Learners and Reflective Practitioners: The Role of Service Learning in Teaching OD


Thomas, Kecia M., Landau, Harriet, Organization Development Journal


Abstract

There is a significant overlap between the values that underlie the instructional pedagogy of service-learning and the culture of organizational development. This paper discusses the similarities between the value systems and processes that guide both service-learning and organizational development efforts. The authors present evidence that the symmetry between the two is so significant that service-learning may be the ideal way in which to teach organizational development students.

Traditional Learning v. Service Learning

Traditional non-experiential forms of instruction in Organizational Development (OD) reflects instructors' perceived positions as experts and students as empty vessels. Under this approach, students never fully come to understand the complexity of organizational life nor the variety of skills that they must develop in order to be successful as organizational service providers. Yet, instruction that students receive on the topic of OD has significant consequences for the future of OD as both a science and a practice.

Students whose faculty rely upon the use of cases in order to make their courses more experiential are better off, yet cases themselves vary in realism and in ability to engage student learning (Cummings, 2000; Golembiewski, 2000). Furthermore cases have limited consequences for students. That is, students' learning and choices have few consequences for the success or failure of an organization initiative or the company itself. The organization presented, for the case method student, is still distant and removed and it no longer exists after the class is over. In either situation, students are short-changed of the experiences needed, and subsequently the knowledge and skills that develop from those experiences in order to investigate relevant questions for organizations and to provide adequate services as well.

In this paper we argue that service-learning (SL) may be an ideal instructional pedagogy for the OD classroom. SL experiences provide students with the opportunities to become engaged learners and reflective practitioners while they fulfill the needs of real organizations in their own communities. In presenting the argument for service learning in OD instruction we will: 1) discuss the significant overlap in the value systems and processes inherent in both SL and OD; 2) provide information on a successful SL and OD venture, a doctoral seminar on Organizational Effectiveness and Change (OEC); and 3) provide evidence of the effectiveness of this venture through summarizing the reflections of the engaged scholar (instructor) who led the seminar and insights from an engaged learner (a student) who participated in the OEC class. In addition, feedback from the client/sponsors in the community who supported this effort is shared.

What is Service-Learning?

SL programs are educational experiences led by faculty and community client/sponsors in which the service provided enhances student learning and the student learning (in-class) enhances the service provided (Furco, 1996). Some examples of service learning include conducting action research for a non-profit agency (Nigro & Wortham,1998), or providing a formative evaluation study of a newly implemented social program as part of students' course responsibilities. Unlike other forms of experiential education, SL programs employ a unique balance between service and learning that distinguishes them from volunteerism, field education programs, and internships (Furco, 1996). SL programs are also unique as compared to these other learning or service programs in that the SL programs must have some academic content and they are developed so that the service is illustrative of the academic mission of the class (Furco, 1996). SL reflects a change in the role of formal education from that of imparting knowledge upon others to facilitating the connection between what one hears and reads to what one experiences and observes (McAleavey, 1996).

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.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
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.

Cited article

Organizational Development Students as Engaged Learners and Reflective Practitioners: The Role of Service Learning in Teaching OD
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?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
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.

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?