1 Brock University (CANADA)
2 MacEwan University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Page: 2940 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.0778
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
There is much evidence that academic-based service learning (SL) can provide many benefits. In addition to providing students with the opportunity for skill-set practice, reflexivity, and the development of a sense of social responsibility (Britt, 2012) it increases student engagement in the learning process (Furco and Root, 2010) with significant benefits (Simons, 2015; Yorio and Ye 2012) over and above that of simply a volunteer experience (MacDonald and Dominguez, 2015). It can also provide specific learning opportunities for international students (Buchanan, 2014) and the promotion of learning goals associated with school accreditations (Pless et al. 2012; Doran et al. 2015; Colakoglu and Sledge, 2013). It can also provide clear evidence of the value of post secondary education institutions to the local community and beyond (Trial Ross, 2012; Fitzgerald et al. 2012). Only recently, however, has there been a greater focus in the SL literature on the explicit consideration and benefits to Community Partners (CPs) (Geller et al. (2016).

Another area of research within SL that has garnered little attention is how the nature of SL programs impacts CPs. Indeed the want or need for depth of engagement of CPs in SL activities is somewhat of a debate within the SL literature. Enos and Morton (2003) describe five stages of university-community SL partnerships ranging from transactional (project based) relationships to transformational ones; an implicit hierarchy with transactional relationships on the bottom. The experience of the GSB is, however, consistent with the evidence provided by others (Bushouse, 2005) that in many cases CPs prefer a transactional relationship. This preference is often driven by capacity constraints on the part of the CP, but also the greater risk of uncertain payoffs often associated with very engaged relationships and the resources they require.

The explicit incorporation of SL into the undergraduate and graduate business degree programs in the Goodman School of Business (GSB) at Brock University commenced in 2005 and now entails an average of approximately 1600 student participants and up to 80 CPs involved in SL projects annually. As in many business schools the nature of SL takes the form of “consultancy” projects whereby groups of students are engaged in a specific consulting based project with a CP.

The current study attempts to explicitly measure the perceived benefits to CPs of SL and in particular the transactional based program employed in the GSB. In particular, upon completing their engagement in a SL consulting project, participating CPs were asked to complete a survey of eleven questions which focused on their perceptions of the benefits that they garnered through the engagement. The questions addressed the CPs perception of the broader benefits accrued, as well as specific benefits including time and resources saved, or capacity expanded. The study consists of a statistical analysis of the responses of 134 CPs over the period of 2015 through 2017. Shortly before 2015 the SL program in the GSB was expanded to include small for profit CPs in addition to those in the traditional nonprofit sector.

The results of the study details the various perceived benefits of CPs with respect to SL and unlike prior studies, specifically the benefits of transactional based SL. An analysis of statistical differences in the responses of both non-profit and for profit CPs is also presented and discussed.
Service learning, community partners.