Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Student Reflections on an LIS Internship from a Service Learning Perspective Supporting Multiple Learning Theories

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Student Reflections on an LIS Internship from a Service Learning Perspective Supporting Multiple Learning Theories

Article excerpt

This paper presents a case study that examines an internship as service learning and participating students' perceptions of their learning in two learning environments. The internship experience in this situation is first examined to ascertain that it qualifies as service learning. At the conclusion of this service learning internship experience, participating students were asked to reflect on their learning in a service learning experience compared to their learning in traditional classroom learning experiences. Students' reflections are examined for evidence linking their perceptions regarding their learning to multiple theories of learning. Findings indicate that (a) the particular internship examined qualifies as service learning; (b) participating students feel they learn more in a hands-on service learning situation than in a traditional classroom learning situation; (c) participating students feel that classroom learning is an important pre- and/ or co- requisite to service learning; (d) multiple theories of learning are supported via a service learning experience thus offering more paths to learning to a broader, more diverse scope of learners; and (e) a service learning experience may open the way to a transformative learning experience while, at the same time, supporting the community and the LIS profession.

Keywords: reflection, learning, service learning, cognitive apprenticeship, communities of practice, situated learning, action learning, transformative experience

Introduction

"We learn so that we may serve" |r \ is the motto of Queens College, City University of New York. Service learning, however, may be thought in terms of "We serve so that we may learn." For many LIS students, an internship may be the first learning experience out of a traditional classroom or online setting. Participating LIS students from the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) at the conclusion of a service learning internship course were asked to reflect on how their learning experience in a service learning situation differed from the learning experienced in prior classroom situated courses. Learning can be achieved in a variety of ways, numerous theories of learning have been proposed, and numerous definitions of service learning have been put forth. Some of these encompass internship situations and some do not. The address of this investigation is threefold: (1) it investigates whether an internship situation might qualify as service learning; (2) it is an inquiry into how participants think about their learning and what they have come to understand about their own learning process; and (3) it is an examination of participants' reflections as they relate to a number of theories of learning and how these multiple modes of learning might be directly supported by service learning experiences thus offering more paths to learning to a broader scope of learners. As educators it is incumbent upon us to explore as many avenues to support student learning as we can. This examination builds on earlier research in service learning in LIS schools and elsewhere (Ball, 2008; Becker, 2000; Bringle & Hatcher, 1996; Cuban & Hayes, 2001; Eyler & Giles, 1999; Furco, 1996; Jacoby, 1999; Riddle, 2003; Yontz & de la Pena McCook, 2003) by specifically examining participating students' reflections on their learning in an internship service situation as compared with a classroom situation.

Literature Review

Experiential Learning

Service learning is a type of experiential learning so it is appropriate to first examine what comprises experiential learning. John Dewey in Experience and Education (1938) espouses the philosophy that not only is experience an important element of learning but that it is necessary for learning to take place. David Kolb (1983) builds on this to propose the Theory of Experiential Learning. In Kolb's experiential learning, the learner goes through a cycle including: concrete experience -» reflecting on that experience -» forming new concepts/ideas based on that reflection and testing the new concepts. …

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