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Navigating International Service Learning from Comparative Perspectives: Case Study of SUNY- Brockport Vietnam Program

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Abstract:

My dissertation, Navigating International Service Learning from Comparative Perspectives: Case Study of SUNY- Brockport Vietnam Program (working title), examines the claimed outcomes of an International Service Learning (ISL) program. Using the SUNY Brockport Vietnam program as a specific case study, my research focuses on both the intended benefits for the students as well as the local communities in the host country. It explores different types of benefits including the notion of what I term “perception of benefits”, how service learning students perceive their own benefits, whether their perceptions may be similar or different from the perception of their host communities and vice versa.

In recent years, the emergence of Service Learning (SL) has been viewed as a new development on engaged learning, teaching and research in higher education. The appealing factor of Service Learning lies in the claim that Service Learning aims to benefit all parties involved: it expands the role of higher education and validates its civic engagement and social responsibilities. It also involves faculty expertise and encourages faculty participation in developing new ways of teaching and doing research, providing students opportunities to connect classroom instruction with experiential learning while enhancing their senses of civic duty and good citizenship and addresses the community’s needs.

Service Learning in an international context has also emerged as a popular pedagogical framework for global education. Due to unique qualities including academic instruction, internationalized curricula, cross-cultural immersion, civic engagement and international community development, International Service Learning or service-focused programs are different from the traditional study abroad programs.

As Service Learning – domestic and international – is becoming more institutionalized in higher education, numerous research projects have been conducted on a variety of topics. They range from student learning outcomes to curriculum development for faculty, to the role of institutional engagement from a university towards the community. The majority of research has been dedicated on student learning outcomes. Many studies have indicated that Service Learning has been beneficial to students. They include: providing students cross-cultural immersion, transforming their learning intellectually and morally, shaping their sense of civic duty and enhancing their personal growth and providing them opportunities to develop their leadership skills. International service learners also gain global competence and pluralistic worldview and become more responsible global citizens.

Compared to student learning outcomes, research on community outcomes is significantly lacking. Service Learning scholars agree that there is a strong need for more studies examining the community outcomes, given that the underlining principle of Service Learning is to benefit the community. In the literature of ISL, the community’s perspective in the host country is also markedly absent. One of many reasons is due in large part to the newness of the discipline; many ISL programs are still at their developing stage and have not conducted effective evaluations on the community outcomes. Some complexities hinder how researchers conduct community research. Such complexities include collaboration across distance, a long-term commitment to follow-up, language barriers and cultural differences. No comprehensive report has been published on an international service program from a standpoint of an Asian host nation or Spanish-speaking country, where most (U.S.-based) ISL programs currently take place.

Assessing whether or not the community services have been valued by or benefited the local communities is crucial for knowing if the ISL program has made impact in the host country. This also helps shed insight into the effectiveness of the program. The potential tangible benefit for the host country will determine whether or not the program has truly contributed to the needs and the development of the international communities in the world at large. The findings will provide crucial information that will help us design an ISL program that mutually benefits both the students and international community as well as contribute to the much-needed literature for teaching and research in this new discipline.

My work is situated within the context of theory, design and practice of International Service Learning, where Study Abroad, Service Learning and International Education intersect. My research training is rooted in international development theories and practice, in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. For the dissertation, I employ mainly qualitative methods: observations, field notes, and semi-structured in-depth interviews. I conducted my fieldwork in Vietnam in 2012 and now I am at the dissertation writing stage. I would like to participate in the Dissertation Workshop to discuss and share my work with other scholars and peers to get feedback on my dissertation in progress.

Cornell University
Faculty Advisor: N’Dri Assié-Lumumba

Author's Keywords:

International Service Learning, International Development Education, Study Abroad
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Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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MLA Citation:

Tranviet, Thúy. "Navigating International Service Learning from Comparative Perspectives: Case Study of SUNY- Brockport Vietnam Program" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p718080_index.html>

APA Citation:

Tranviet, T. , 2014-03-10 "Navigating International Service Learning from Comparative Perspectives: Case Study of SUNY- Brockport Vietnam Program" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p718080_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: My dissertation, Navigating International Service Learning from Comparative Perspectives: Case Study of SUNY- Brockport Vietnam Program (working title), examines the claimed outcomes of an International Service Learning (ISL) program. Using the SUNY Brockport Vietnam program as a specific case study, my research focuses on both the intended benefits for the students as well as the local communities in the host country. It explores different types of benefits including the notion of what I term “perception of benefits”, how service learning students perceive their own benefits, whether their perceptions may be similar or different from the perception of their host communities and vice versa.

In recent years, the emergence of Service Learning (SL) has been viewed as a new development on engaged learning, teaching and research in higher education. The appealing factor of Service Learning lies in the claim that Service Learning aims to benefit all parties involved: it expands the role of higher education and validates its civic engagement and social responsibilities. It also involves faculty expertise and encourages faculty participation in developing new ways of teaching and doing research, providing students opportunities to connect classroom instruction with experiential learning while enhancing their senses of civic duty and good citizenship and addresses the community’s needs.

Service Learning in an international context has also emerged as a popular pedagogical framework for global education. Due to unique qualities including academic instruction, internationalized curricula, cross-cultural immersion, civic engagement and international community development, International Service Learning or service-focused programs are different from the traditional study abroad programs.

As Service Learning – domestic and international – is becoming more institutionalized in higher education, numerous research projects have been conducted on a variety of topics. They range from student learning outcomes to curriculum development for faculty, to the role of institutional engagement from a university towards the community. The majority of research has been dedicated on student learning outcomes. Many studies have indicated that Service Learning has been beneficial to students. They include: providing students cross-cultural immersion, transforming their learning intellectually and morally, shaping their sense of civic duty and enhancing their personal growth and providing them opportunities to develop their leadership skills. International service learners also gain global competence and pluralistic worldview and become more responsible global citizens.

Compared to student learning outcomes, research on community outcomes is significantly lacking. Service Learning scholars agree that there is a strong need for more studies examining the community outcomes, given that the underlining principle of Service Learning is to benefit the community. In the literature of ISL, the community’s perspective in the host country is also markedly absent. One of many reasons is due in large part to the newness of the discipline; many ISL programs are still at their developing stage and have not conducted effective evaluations on the community outcomes. Some complexities hinder how researchers conduct community research. Such complexities include collaboration across distance, a long-term commitment to follow-up, language barriers and cultural differences. No comprehensive report has been published on an international service program from a standpoint of an Asian host nation or Spanish-speaking country, where most (U.S.-based) ISL programs currently take place.

Assessing whether or not the community services have been valued by or benefited the local communities is crucial for knowing if the ISL program has made impact in the host country. This also helps shed insight into the effectiveness of the program. The potential tangible benefit for the host country will determine whether or not the program has truly contributed to the needs and the development of the international communities in the world at large. The findings will provide crucial information that will help us design an ISL program that mutually benefits both the students and international community as well as contribute to the much-needed literature for teaching and research in this new discipline.

My work is situated within the context of theory, design and practice of International Service Learning, where Study Abroad, Service Learning and International Education intersect. My research training is rooted in international development theories and practice, in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. For the dissertation, I employ mainly qualitative methods: observations, field notes, and semi-structured in-depth interviews. I conducted my fieldwork in Vietnam in 2012 and now I am at the dissertation writing stage. I would like to participate in the Dissertation Workshop to discuss and share my work with other scholars and peers to get feedback on my dissertation in progress.

Cornell University
Faculty Advisor: N’Dri Assié-Lumumba


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International Service Learning: Who benefits? Whose benefits? A Case Study of the SUNY-Brockport program in Da Nang, Vietnam


 
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