Use assessment to develop service-learning reflection course materials by Tsang Edmund
Tsang in his article defines service-learning as a kind of experimental education whereby by the services in the community provides students with a context to develop and learn. The service-learning design projects according to Tsang are for engineering students to work in the team. And such a team can comprise of students from the different social-economic background who have little understanding of aspects of technology and engineering. In these teams according to Tsang, engineering students are expected to communicate effectively to a diverse service-learning practitioners and audiences. Tsang also adds that the service-learning primer in higher education has the goal of reflection as a means of promoting learning about the wider social issues that students are expected to respond. The social background according to Tsang is the political, social, economic and cultural contexts that engineering students are expected to address. Furthermore, Tsang adds that the reflection can provide participants with an opportunity to receive feedback from the members of the community that they intend to serve or from peers and leaders of the program.
Tsang states that the aspect of reflection is commonly absent or not structured in most community-based design projects of engineering programs. He gives the reason that this may be true to the kind of training of technology and engineering faculty and the lack of course materials that place emphasis on reflection. The author, therefore, recommends that there is need to redesign the community-based design projects courses materials to have the reflective component. Such changes according to Tsang will encourage students to look into the societal issues of technology and engineering (Tsang, 15-17).
It is true that the words reflection and reflect are terms with negative connotation among the technology and engineering faculty members just as the way Tsang highlights. Most faculty members in my faculty easily mistake the term reflection as a word to mean relaxing and doing nothing. Instead, they prefer the term examine. That is the reason why the community-based design projects in my faculty usually lack the reflection components, and it is not deliberately structured. I, therefore, believe that by incorporating the structured reflection as part of the service activity projects I can gain the deeper understanding of the content of the courses, appreciate the engineering discipline and further enhance my civic responsibility sense.
I also believe that reflection is a special component that can help in differentiation service-learning from other kinds of community services. It is because reflection acts as a main tool of assessment. I can use a wide range of forms to relay the reflection process of students and to assess my service activities. For example, I can use surveys that address the learning and participation objectives, presentations and journals. It is also possible to write project reports, views of the focus groups and attitude surveys from the service learning activities. Thus, educators can compare the results of all these types of the reflection of the learning objectives as a means of assessment. Another quantifiable mode like the Likert scale survey provides educators and learners with a direct comparison of learning outcomes and objectives. Thus, there is the need for the entire engineering faculty to redefine the true meaning of reflection and incorporate it into its course materials especially on the service learning project designing.
Tsang Edmund. Using assessment for developing service-learning reflection course materials. College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo,Pdf