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Thursday, June 18 • 3:45pm - 4:15pm
CON08.03 - Multiple stakeholder perspectives on the value (and challenges) of community-based experiential learning in human services-oriented programs

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Community-based experiential learning opportunities, such as student projects and placements within community organizations (CACSL, 2014; Moon, 2004), are highly valued by undergraduate recreation students (Powell, Johnson, Anderson & Paisley, 2013), but they also describe these experiences as time-intensive, harried, and stressful (Johnson & Pate, 2013). The purpose of this project is to explore possibilities for less resource-intensive experiential experiences, (from the perspectives of students as well as faculty and community organizations) while expanding opportunities for student-centred skills development and reflection . Interviews and focus groups are currently underway to capture the multiple perspectives of key stakeholder groups; preliminary results are based on: interviews with academics who have designed experiential learning initiatives (n= 10), debriefing with practitioners who have facilitated experiential learning for students (n = 4), and focus groups with undergraduate recreation students (n = 17). All stakeholder groups valued experiences: (a) that provided opportunities for students to develop practical work and interpersonal skills, (b) when students were actively supported in their learning (e.g., through onsite mentoring, debriefing) and (c) when there was a shared understanding of the purpose/goals of the students’ involvement. Unique perspectives were also evidenced, such as, for students, the importance of achieving a sense of ‘closure’ when the project ended. All noted multiple challenges, including: the time required to develop and maintain relationships, constraints of sustaining partnerships across academic terms, and matching student abilities and needs to community needs. This session will provide opportunities to discuss these challenges (and those experienced by delegates), and will facilitate discussion of approaches to community-based experiential learning that may help to address these issues.

Canadian Alliance for Community Service-Learning (CACSL). (2014). Web site accessed February 25, 2014 at www.communityservicelearning.ca

Johnson, C.W., & Pate, J.A. (2013). Three course connections: Integrated event design. Schole: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education, 28(1), 32-43.

Moon, J.A. (2004). A handbook of reflective and experiential learning: Theory and practice. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Powell, G.M., Johnson, C.W., Anderson, D., & Paisley, K. (2013). Together we can: Integrated program design in recreation and leisure studies education. Schole: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education, 28(1), vii – xiii.

Thursday June 18, 2015 3:45pm - 4:15pm PDT
Bayshore Salon EF

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