Mark Taylor Interview

I was glad to have the chance to meet Mark Taylor and conduct a brief interview with him between the keynote and his afternoon session. I hope our brief chat is a useful addition to his valuable contributions at the conference. Here is the 8MB MP3 file. If you use iTunes, subscribe to the feed for this blog to automatically load the file into iTunes.

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At 5:56 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Cristie said...

Very nice interview! One of the questions regarding service learning caught my attention. A potential problem with service learning that Dr. Taylor mentioned is that students today are strapped for time. I’m wondering if the time constraint of service learning is a real constraint or a created constraint? There is no question that students today are taking on a lot of responsibilities or extra-curricular activities outside of class………we are all feeling this (I think). I’m not sure though that service learning has to be connected to an “extra” time burden. We as instructors can (and we already do here at the U of A) integrate meaningful but manageable service projects into our courses. The projects are directly linked to the learning objectives of the course so that the experience doesn’t degrade from service learning to community service. The service learning project should be a significant part of the grade if it takes a significant part of the class. If students have to do all the traditional work of a course, meaning they learn all their material in class and then have to do service on top of it, this seems unbalanced (unless students earn extra hours/credits). The service learning can be structured such that it is a project and the project is a substantial portion of the grade. In my interviews with service learning students, only some students spend more time on their service learning project than they do in more traditional courses. Students who spend more time on service learning projects do so because it has seized their interest and they either want to or feel compelled to. Students who spend the “normal” amount of time still profess to have learned a lot and enjoyed the experience.

The “How does it benefit me?” of service learning is a valid question in reference to the next generation. My experience with undergraduate students is that they are stepping into the adult learner role in their demand for relevance, and consumption of education as a product. However, they are not necessarily integrating personal responsibility at the level that most adult learners do. So, “why service learning” seems obvious if we want to encourage students to step outside of the “ME” of consumerism and into the “WE” that service learning engenders. Giving students a chance to give and participate in something real where there are real emotional consequences and people that are depending on them seems to create a sense of relevance. In general, I find that most students only take most courses because they HAVE to get a college degree, so the question of relevance is not new to service learning, it is ever-present.


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