Defining the role and experiences of service-learning faculty : a qualitative study at The University of Texas at Austin
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Over the past two decades researchers have analyzed motivating factors and institutional barriers that influenced a professor's initial decision to utilize a service-learning pedagogy. The majority of this research has been quantitative in nature, surveying faculty members' initial attitudes around service-learning. However, the extant literature fails to qualitatively examine the experiences of faculty members who successfully integrate service-learning, especially at a public research institution with civic-engaged mission. Because a public institution relies upon a critical mass of faculty members to support its civic engagement mission, this study focused on explaining the lived experience of exemplar professors in service-learning to understanding their motivations, barriers, and experiences. Faculty members are important to study because service-learning is a form of community engagement that cannot happen without sustainable efforts from professors. Moreover, students and communities cannot derive the benefits of service-learning, nor can civically minded institutions achieve their goal, if faculty members do not incorporate service-learning into their classrooms. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to understand the experiences of service-learning faculty members at a four-year public research institution where community engagement is a stated priority. Utilizing a recently developed faculty engagement model (Demb & Wade, 2012) as the guiding theoretical framework, this research study seeks to understand the lived experience of faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin by inquiring 1) how faculty members implement meaningful community engagement through their service-learning classes, 2) how service-learning may shape a faculty members' professional and personal identity at a research institution, and 3) how service-learning fits into faculty members' larger scholarship agenda.