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Alexa Darby, Frances Ward-Johnson and Tammy Cobb co-author article in service-learning journal

The Elon University researchers published their findings examining how faculty members have turned to academic service-learning to expose students to diverse client populations.

Alexa Darby (from left), Frances Ward-Johnson and Tammy Cobb

Two Elon University professors and a member of the institution’s Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement have co-authored an article published in the spring issue of Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement.

Alexa Darby, associate professor of psychology, Frances Ward-Johnson, associate professor of communications, and Tammy Cobb, assistant director for community partnerships, collaborated to write the lead article of the journal’s May issue. It is titled “The unrecognized co-educator in academic service-learning: Community partners’ perspectives on college students serving diverse client populations.

The researchers reveal that universities strive to teach about diversity through their curriculum and classroom discussions but students may rarely encounter diverse populations on campus. Thus, faculty members have turned to academic service-learning to expose students to diverse client populations.

Their study investigates community partners’ perspectives on how academic service-learning impacts students whose backgrounds differ from those of their organization’s clients. The research highlights two main themes that community partners view as central to their role as co-educators in diversity education: college students’ initial responses to diverse clients, and the process through which community partners help college students understand different ways of life.

According to the authors, eliciting community partners’ perspectives will help university administrators, college students and faculty understand the significant role community partners and clients can play in advancing diversity education. Scholarship on academic service-learning has focused primarily on faculty and student perspectives, rarely accounting for the crucial role of community partners as co-educators in this endeavor, the authors report.

The research is part of a larger study completed by Darby, Ward-Johnson and Cobb, which included interviews with staff members from more than 15 local community agencies.

Partnerships, a peer-reviewed, online journal of North Carolina Campus Compact, is hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It provides college and university scholars a forum for publishing research related to the varied campus-community relationships that emphasize connections and collaborations in service-learning and community engagement. 

Tommy Kopetskie,
6/9/2016 10:35 AM