The conceptualisation and application of service-learning in higher education : a case study

Daniels, Freda J. (2003-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The central question that this research study addresses is whether higher education institutions in South Africa are sufficiently meeting the needs of their students, by contextualising and integrating their academic curricula with service delivery in communities. The higher education sector has been criticized for not adequately promoting and developing social responsibility in the context of civic awareness among their students. This study suggests that service-learning could become a vital force in educational change and promote social equity by enabling the advancement of historically disadvantaged communities. Service-learning could thus be the vehicle that links academic learning outcomes, service in communities and civic education. The purpose of this study is to explore the theoretical foundations of servicelearning in order to achieve a deeper understanding of what service-learning entails. The Occupational Therapy Department of the University of Stellenbosch was selected as a case study to critically assess to what extent it has conceptualised, planned, implemented and assessed its service-learning programmes in terms of the key elements, principles and goals of service-learning. The research strategy for this study is a qualitative case study. Qualitative data was obtained through the completion of an open-ended questionnaire by the final year Occupational Therapy students. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with the head of the department and different representatives of the community project that was selected for the purpose of this research study. The study concludes that the Occupational Therapy Department did in fact, integrate its academic curriculum outcomes with service delivery in the community. However, the development of civic awareness among students needs to be explicitly linked to the academic learning outcomes and service delivery in communities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die vraagstuk wat hierdie studie probeer aanspreek, is om vas te stel tot watter mate instansies vir hoër onderrig en opvoeding in Suid Afrika die behoeftes van hul studente aanspreek. Die instansies word gekritiseer dat hulle akademiese kurrikulums nie genoegsaam geïntegreerd is met dienslewering in die gemeenskap nie, en dat hulle ook nie genoegsame sosiale verantwoordelikheid en gemeenskapsbewustheid by hulle studente aanmoedig nie. Hierdie studie stel voor dat diensleer gebruik word as 'n tegniek vir opvoedkundige veranderinge en die bevordering van sosiale gelykheid vir die bemagtiging van histories benadeelde gemeenskappe. Diensleer kan dus gebruik word om akademiese leer uitkomste, dienslewering en burgerlike opvoeding te verbind. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om die teoretiese basis van diensleer te ondersoek om sodoende 'n deeglike begrip te kry van wat diensleer werklik behels. Die Arbeidsterapie Departement van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch is gekies as gevallestudie om vas te stel hoe hulle hul diensleer programme konseptualiseer, beplan, implementeer en assesseer, t.o.v. die kern elemente, beginsels en doelstellings van diensleer. Die navorsingstrategie wat aangewend is om die doel van hierdie navorsing te bereik, is 'n kwalitatiewe gevallestudie. Kwalitatiewe data is verkry deur die voltooiing van 'n ope vraelys deur die finale jaar Arbeidsterapie studente en deur semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met die hoof van die Arbeidsterapie Departement en verteenwoordigers van 'n gemeenskapsprojek wat gekies is vir die doel van die studie. Die studie het vasgestel dat die Arbeidsterapie Departement se akademiese kurrikulum uitkomste wel met dienslewering in die gemeenskap geïntegreerd is. In die lig van die navorsingsbevindinge word 'n aanbeveling gemaak dat die ontwikkeling van burgelikebewustheid en sosiale verantwoordelikheid ten opsigte van gemeenskapsbehoeftes, direk verbind moet word aan akademiese leer en diens uitkomste.

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