Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Characteristics of Faculty Who Adopt Community Service Learning Pedagogy

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Characteristics of Faculty Who Adopt Community Service Learning Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Context and Background

The origins for CSL in the United States are found early in the 20th century. Though referred to by other names such as social reconstruction, advocacy and activism, historically, students have been encouraged to identify social issues, examine and analyze them with the goal of social change (Westheimer & Kahne, 1998). Unique to CSL, of course, is the aspect of critical guided reflection--a tool for integrating classroom learning with community service learning. The recent surge of support received from colleges and universities around the country has been instrumental in linking those same universities to the communities in which they reside (Ward & Wolf-Wendel, 2000). Not only are the best practices of CSL designed to "enhance the student learning experience to create self-motivated learners who become civic participants" (Marullo & Edwards, 2000, p. 746), but ideally offer a visible response to our communities' changing economic, political, and social needs. Given this innovative and ideological vision of what CSL is designed to do, why do only some faculty take advantage of this pedagogical opportunity? Abes, Jackson, and Jones (2002) have provided CSL practitioners with a list of faculty motivators and deterrents to adopting CSL pedagogy. Identifying these determinants clarifies our understanding of the need for external support for faculty to do CSL. But what internal factors prompt faculty to engage in CSL pedagogy? Once the institutional support is provided, who chooses to "take the risk" associated with adopting the innovation? Drawing from the research literature on the diffusion and adoption of innovations, the authors explored the theoretical foundation for focusing on faculty as adopters of pedagogical innovation. Specifically, this project's purpose was to augment our understanding of faculty characteristics of those who engage in innovative pedagogy such as CSL.

The Diffusion and Adoption of the Innovation Process

The diffusion and adoption of the innovation model used in this research stems from the work of Rogers (1971), and Zaltman and Duncan (1977). As Rogers notes, the key to our understanding of innovation and change is the knowledge that while an innovation can be introduced into a system, its success is largely determined by recognizing and accepting its benefits and the degree to which these outweigh the costs. An innovation is defined as "an idea, practice, or object perceived as 'new' by an individual ... 'newness' may be expressed in knowledge, attitude, or regarding a decision to use it" (Rogers, p. 19); additionally, an innovation "triggers change" (Spence, 1994, p. 253). The process by which the diffusion and adoption of innovations occurs is integral to guaranteeing that members of the system become aware of, and interested in, the value of the innovation. Once the information about the innovation is diffused (made available to the members of the organization), the innovation is then evaluated by weighing the benefits against potential costs. If benefits are perceived to outweigh costs, members will move to a trial period and eventual adoption (Greene, Harcih, & Kohli, 1996; Rogers). Once introduced to the innovation, potential adopters range from innovators to laggards--innovators are eager to try new ideas and laggards are suspicious of and usually the last to adopt an innovation (Rogers). We return to this distinction later.

The process of change begins when members recognize the need and/or relevance of the innovation being proposed. This stage is referred to as perception. For those open to ideas for social change, the next stage is characterized by motivation to seek out additional information to determine whether the innovation will solve a particular problem; individuals resistant to change are usually comfortable with the status quo and unlikely to move into this stage. Once introduced to the innovation, the next stage determines the development of cognitive, affective, and behavioral attitudes toward the innovation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.