Tamara Bauer, Lori E. Kniffin, & Kerry L. Priest
Given the particular challenges of first-year courses, it is all too easy to default to an approach that unintentionally sets students on a problematic path … We call for attention to asset-based approaches that, from the beginning, help undergraduates see themselves and others on an equal footing and learn to look for, appreciate, and build on their own and others’ strengths.
It has become clear to us that how students experience SL in the first year is especially important in shaping their attitudes toward service and community and their roles as learners and engaged citizens while on campus and in the future. Thus, it is also especially important for faculty to be mindful of SL design in the first year. How can we enhance SL experiences so as to help students make progress on the mindset and practice of civic engagement while scaffolding them toward more challenging commitments and also engaging in a meaningful way with social concerns? …
Many of our students come from high school having done community service; for those whose past service experience has not been tied explicitly to meaningful learning, we have noticed it can be even harder to engage them in the first year – their assumptions about the process at times leading them to resist or lack confidence as they begin to sense the more difficult and riskier work of SL. And, arguably, for most first-year students, an orientation toward SL that includes engagement with the systems underlying social injustices is challenging, insofar as it pushes them to unfamiliar levels of analysis and action.
Our experience suggests that, given the particular challenges of first-year courses, it is all too easy to default to an approach that unintentionally sets students on a problematic path in their interactions with communities…. We call for attention to asset-based approaches that, from the beginning, help undergraduates see themselves and others on an equal footing and learn to look for, appreciate, and build on their own and others’ strengths.… setting the stage for future community involvement while on campus and after graduation and advancing social change and student learning about social justice.
TAMARA BAUER is an instructor with the Staley School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses focused on personal leader development and civic and adaptive leadership and coordinates the Peer Leader Practicum. Her scholarship interests are in leadership curriculum and instruction, specifically best practices for significant learning in leadership education.
LORI E. KNIFFIN is the advisor of Academic Programs for the Staley School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University where she teaches and advises students in a civic engagement-focused leadership program. Through service-learning she addresses food security, racial equality, and student health and well-being. She works with globalsl.org, a website that amasses tools and research to advance best practices in global learning, community-university partnerships, and sustainable development.
KERRY L. PRIEST is an assistant professor in the Staley School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University, where she teaches undergraduate courses emphasizing civic leadership development and practice. Her scholarship explores the intersections of leadership and learning, including leader identity development and leadership pedagogy/high impact practices for leadership education such as learning communities, service-learning and community engagement, and peer leadership.
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