Applications of situated learning to foster communities of practice.TEACHING ABOUT COMMUNITY practice in social work is extremely challenging, but it is vital to training practitioners who are effective advocates in an increasingly diverse and politically complex society. Ethical social work practice requires working for broader social change and engaging with communities, whether the practitioner's primary focus is macro or micro level advocacy. Together with community members and other helping professionals, students learn new ways to work toward broad social justice goals that affect local communities. This article introduces a model for teaching community practice in situations embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. in the community while developing lasting professional and community relationships called communities of practice (Wenger, 2010). Such transformative experiences can prepare students to take the necessary steps and risks to advance larger-scale social change while connecting with individuals through empowerment em·pow·er
tr.v. em·pow·ered, em·pow·er·ing, em·pow·ers
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See Synonyms at authorize.
2. practice, thus breaking down the barriers created by privilege and oppression.
Using the methods and model described in this article, students are challenged to make necessary shifts in attitudes and behavior through improved critical thinking. We identify critical learning moments (CLMs) that occur during the process of engaging with communities and assisting in planning for social change efforts. Each opportunity to work with communities is unique but tends to follow similar trajectories, including assessing communities for need, theorizing potential solutions, planning, and implementation (Rubin & Rubin, 2008). Our model builds on prior knowledge by introducing quite blurred blur
v. blurred, blur·ring, blurs
1. To make indistinct and hazy in outline or appearance; obscure.
2. To smear or stain; smudge.
3. lines between the lecture hall lecture hall n → sala de conferencias;
(UNIV) → aula
lecture hall lecture n → amphithéâtre m
and community. Students consistently report that their understanding of social work fundamentally changes with the experiences in these courses. Principally, offering inventive in·ven·tive
1. Of, relating to, or characterized by invention.
2. Adept or skillful at inventing; creative.
in·ven and transformative experiential ex·pe·ri·en·tial
Relating to or derived from experience.
ex·peri·en opportunities based in real social problems helps students learn to seek diverse perspectives in the communities where they work and challenges them to use their prior knowledge in new ways to make connections between micro-level practice, social policy, and community practice.
The courses discussed in this article employ two theoretical frameworks that comprise essential aspects of antioppressive practice--situated learning and communities of practice. Situated learning theory holds that students who enter learning environments that intrinsically blend academic instruction with civic engagement in local communities where actual problems are to be solved become an integral part of the process (Lave & Wenger, 1991). This is different from field placements in that students often collaborate with agencies but are accountable to the groups and communities directly rather than to the organizational hierarchy inherent in an internship internship /in·tern·ship/ (in´tern-ship) the position or term of service of an intern in a hospital.
n the course work or practicum conducted in a professional dental clinic. experience. Our approach is also different from most service learning initiatives in which students participate in a highly structured preorganized experience serving a particular community need (Bringte & Hatcher, 1996). The model we have developed requires students to design a macro experience by partnering with members of the community. When students are situated in the community and confront issues that concern community members, they must tackle political issues of privilege and oppression to be effective. In this article we discuss the process of teaching students to apply what they learn in the course as they learn it, through community-based active and collaborative learning Collaborative learning is an umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task in which each techniques, in an apprentice-like environment. Assignments are tiered, and ongoing feedback provided by the instructors and community members facilitates students' committed and enthusiastic engagement in real-world problems. As they become involved as equal members of a team that includes the instructor, their student colleagues, and professional relationships that they seek out, students learn to reflect on their experiences, synthesize To create a whole or complete unit from parts or components. See synthesis. different kinds of information, effectively evaluate situations, and make difficult decisions (Atherton, 2010; Boud & Feletti, 1997).
Our primary objective is to explain the goals and process of using this community practice model. However, it is important to understand how to assess the effectiveness of the learning and teaching methods. Although a full exploration of assessment and evaluation of the model is beyond the scope of this article, we introduce briefly our desired outcomes and ways that instructors can decide whether the benchmarks for transformative practice are met, and how to move through the CLMs and steps in the model. Unique to our assessment approach is that we are also concerned with the community's evaluation of students' work and outcomes. There is a large body of literature on "authentic assessment Authentic assessment is an umbrella concept that refers to the measurement of "intellectual accomplishments that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful," as compared to multiple choice standardized tests. " approaches, by which instructors and students can be confident that their experiences in the classroom and community are true to life and relevant to actual situations (Burke, 2009; Darling-Hammond, Ancess, & Falk, 1995; Paris & Ayres, 1994). In the era of enhancing expectations and rigorous assessment of social work students' competencies in all areas of practice, these connections across the spectrum and assurance that diversity, privilege, and oppression are fully addressed are of particular salience sa·li·ence also sa·li·en·cy
n. pl. sa·li·en·ces also sa·li·en·cies
1. The quality or condition of being salient.
2. A pronounced feature or part; a highlight.
Noun 1. .
Finally, we illustrate our model with brief examples from each of our courses, developed at different large Midwestern universities over several years. These applications demonstrate how the model is used by students to create their own experiences of community practice and how the efforts are sustainable and replicable from year to year. We conclude with future directions for the model and implications for practice, classroom research, and social work education within the pragmatic paradigm.
Teaching Community Practice as a Route to Social Justice
At the outset, our courses ground students in social work's long tradition of social justice work through community practice, beginning with the work of settlement house pioneers such as Jane Addams, Florence Kelly, and Lillian Wald Lillian D. Wald (1867–1940) was an American nurse and social worker, and employment agent, most active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wald was born into a comfortable, German-Jewish middle-class family in Cincinnati, Ohio (Her father was an optical dealer. . These early social workers developed forms of radical social work focused on the elimination of poverty and fostered a tradition of social activism in social work community practice (Reisch & Andrews, 2002). In our community practice courses we acknowledge and embrace the historical tradition of radical community organizing The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page. that prioritizes this dedication to social justice and activism in various forms. This grounding is a foundational competency that helps students understand their place in these long traditions and their responsibility to their commitments. As educators, we help students demonstrate their understanding of how social justice is rooted in history and presently hindered by inequality inequality, in mathematics, statement that a mathematical expression is less than or greater than some other expression; an inequality is not as specific as an equation, but it does contain information about the expressions involved. and also to understand their own privilege and oppression. This knowledge can then be applied to students' budding budding, type of grafting in which a plant bud is inserted under the bark of the stock (usually not more than a year old). It is best done when the bark will peel easily and the buds are mature, as in spring, late summer, or early autumn. community practice. Situated learning techniques help students understand antioppressive community practice methods, and the communities of practice model helps foster modern interpretations of the kinds of radical social work that occurred during the early history of macro practice (Reisch & Andrews, 2002).
There are several reliable approaches to teaching community practice. Yet as times and societies change, methods necessarily evolve. The current moment in social work education demands a response to the rapid developments in American society; this response is manifested in enhanced expectations for demonstrated competence in practice behaviors for all bachelor's- and master's-level graduates. Moving from teaching methods that emphasize broad theoretical knowledge as an independent step in the education of social work practitioners, an increasingly pragmatic paradigm is emerging that assists students with a "running start" as they enter the field able to attend to social issues that affect individuals and have an effect on local, state, and national levels.
Embracing diversity and confronting privilege and oppression is key to effective, holistic Holistic
A practice of medicine that focuses on the whole patient, and addresses the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of a patient as well as their physical treatment.
Mentioned in: Aromatherapy, Stress Reduction, Traditional Chinese Medicine practice and is a principal competency for students. Yet the first step--overcoming barriers of internalized privilege and oppression--is profoundly complicated. Many educators have written about how difficult the development of critical consciousness is for students as it concerns an acceptance of their own privilege (Pewewardy, 2007; Van Soest & Garcia, 2003). Students can begin to resist and "shut down" or create psychological barriers to this acceptance (Van Soest & Garcia, 2003), then become argumentative Controversial; subject to argument.
Pleading in which a point relied upon is not set out, but merely implied, is often labeled argumentative. Pleading that contains arguments that should be saved for trial, in addition to allegations establishing a Cause of Action or , challenging the material being presented (Anderson & Smith, 2005).
We have discovered that starting the process by turning students' attention outward toward society at large--rather than focusing on internalized guilt--can help break down some of these psychological barriers. Students eventually see their place within society, both as participants in social processes and as change agents. They are then better positioned and motivated mo·ti·vate
tr.v. mo·ti·vat·ed, mo·ti·vat·ing, mo·ti·vates
To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.
mo to challenge their individual attitudes and belief systems and those of others around them. We use a scaffolding approach (see Figure 1) to course assignments, which allows students ample time to process each stage of their community project, and provides them with both instructor- and community-based feedback before they reenter re·en·ter also re-en·ter
v. re·en·tered, re·en·ter·ing, re·en·ters
1. To enter or come in to again.
2. To record again on a list or ledger.
v.intr. the community. We strive to provide students with a supportive feedback-laden framework for engaging in community work. Taking this first step as advanced undergraduates in an environment that provides ample guidance via the scaffolding model is essential because of the often tremendous moral and ethical issues students will face in communities. The decisions they make will have long-lasting effects. "Preparing students to deal with [moral] conflicts is challenging in part due to the ambiguity of ethical dilemmas and the difficulty of predicting the specific circumstances with which they will be faced on a case by case basis" (Roche et al., 1999, p. 20).
The immersive approach called situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991) is an extremely effective way to transform student consciousness and expand their viewpoints toward an active engagement as professionals and citizens. From students' perspectives, they are negotiating new tensions--feeling excitement and eagerness about being active and engaging in a real-life social work intervention, but being fearful about successfully engaging in a macro level project. This is most students' first course on macro practice models, theories, and examples. The added requirement that they must engage in a community of people who are different from themselves often increases anxiety. Equally problematic may be situations in which students feel little or no apprehension The seizure and arrest of a person who is suspected of having committed a crime.
A reasonable belief of the possibility of imminent injury or death at the hands of another that justifies a person acting in Self-Defense against the potential attack. , though they have little to no experience. Perhaps in part because of a lack of awareness of their own privileged status, some students may believe that they will be unconditionally welcomed into communities because they have good intentions--even when their knowledge and skills may be untested in that particular field. If they have only rarely been questioned by anyone in authority or do not conceive of Verb 1. conceive of - form a mental image of something that is not present or that is not the case; "Can you conceive of him as the president?"
envisage, ideate, imagine community members and clients as legitimate authorities in practice situations, they may not realize that they should enter field situations with some healthy trepidation trepidation /trep·i·da·tion/ (trep?i-da´shun)
2. nervous anxiety and fear.trep´idant
1. An involuntary trembling or quivering. and caution. However, by helping students learn to collaborate and rely on community members for expertise, we can calibrate To adjust or bring into balance. Scanners, CRTs and similar peripherals may require periodic adjustment. Unlike digital devices, the electronic components within these analog devices may change from their original specification. See color calibration and tweak. some of their anxiety and initiate what should become lifelong habits of accessing diverse communities of practice.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Situated learning contextualizes students' understanding of new concepts by grounding it within an individual experiential framework (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Students relate concepts to previous experiences and those encountered in the field. To produce an understanding that is more complex and deeper than mere surface comprehension comprehension
Act of or capacity for grasping with the intellect. The term is most often used in connection with tests of reading skills and language abilities, though other abilities (e.g., mathematical reasoning) may also be examined. , they must be able to situate sit·u·ate
tr.v. sit·u·at·ed, sit·u·at·ing, sit·u·ates
1. To place in a certain spot or position; locate.
2. To place under particular circumstances or in a given condition.
adj. the concepts within their own experiences and demonstrate their understanding in an observable way (e.g., through classroom assessments and outside assignments). Students engage in community work as partners with student peers and community members, producing experiences that can lead to a situated learning about privilege and oppression.
Creating situated learning environments can take different forms. Our version takes advantage of the idea that the classroom and the community situation are not qualitatively different from each other in terms of learning. In both settings a person observes people, objects, interactions, and relationships and makes connections among concepts and behaviors. In many cases social workers visit families' homes, schools, and medical facilities, each with its set of expected events. In community work we may not be able to predict the people and props that practitioners encounter. The "classroom" could be people's homes, neighborhoods, or town hall meetings. It is easy to see why students unfamiliar with these settings may be uncertain initially, and why building relationships quickly is important. Students' interactions begin with broadening their own self-awareness and ability to work with the communities "in place," not just "where the client is," to determine how they can facilitate the social change the community wants and is often already working toward.
Communities of Practice: Constructions of Co-Participation
In traditional classroom learning communities, students are supported by developing long-term close working relationships with their student colleagues and often with their instructors. Learning communities employ multiple dimensions of academic work and social processing of the material to assist in learning new ideas and problem-solving. The idea of communities of practice takes this method a step farther, as students' collaboration with communities is supported by a network of experts who not only demonstrate and teach information and professional skills, but also provide students with opportunities to test their knowledge and skills in the situation. The students' developing networks of professionals in the field, academics, and--most important--"community guides" (Ungar, Manuel, Mealey, Thomas, & Campbell, 2004) or indigenous experts in turn rely on the students as equal partners to present effective, feasible solutions and carry them out.
During the course, students' create their own professional networks to guide the information they collect and inform how they integrate it (Wenger, 2010), as well as cultivate cul·ti·vate
tr.v. cul·ti·vat·ed, cul·ti·vat·ing, cul·ti·vates
a. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
b. their attitudes and practices as citizens and professionals. Community members, students, and professionals (i.e., educators and practitioners) work side-by-side to solve real-world problems. In this approach students become prepared for challenges they will encounter in practice by creating discomfort in a safe environment--the classroom--to push them toward the outer limits of critical thinking about social problems. Students experience the benefits of antioppressive practice, because they are both mentored and accepted as new professionals.
These are relatively high-stakes methods, requiring students to begin the transformation from trainees to actual social workers who are accountable for their behavior and successful community outcomes. Field placements and internships provide a different, extremely valuable experience; however, our approach combines classroom instruction as real-world experience with community involvement as academic instruction. In field placements the students' networks are in place when they arrive. In our model the students must seek out and cultivate their own relationships and networks based on information they pursue about who is important in the community change effort.
Our approach focuses on the community and the indigenous experts within the broader community and compels students to view these members as sources of expertise about particular social problems (i.e., conscienticization; see Figure 2). Students first develop relationships (locate, meet with, and interview) indigenous experts in the community and continue to strengthen communication and confidence in those relationships throughout the course. Early on, the goal is to nurture NURTURE. The act of taking care of children and educating them: the right to the nurture of children generally belongs to the father till the child shall arrive at the age of fourteen years, and not longer. Till then, he is guardian by nurture. Co. Litt. 38 b. students' growing awareness of their social location and place in the community. Their experiences of diversity, privilege, and oppression are major elements of processing in the classroom through discussion and activities, although some resistance is likely. In the best situations students voice their discomfort and are able to help each other understand multiple perspectives. But strategies designed to elicit e·lic·it
tr.v. e·lic·it·ed, e·lic·it·ing, e·lic·its
a. To bring or draw out (something latent); educe.
b. To arrive at (a truth, for example) by logic.
2. honest responses help students who are inclined to remain silent bring out uncomfortable attitudes, fears, stereotypes, and peer feedback (Mildred & Zuniga, 2004; Van Soest, Canon, & Grant, 2000; Zuniga, Naagda, & Sevig, 2002). We encourage students to solicit feedback throughout the semester se·mes·ter
One of two divisions of 15 to 18 weeks each of an academic year.
[German, from Latin (cursus) s from the community members with whom they are working; short assignments provide evidence of their communications. We require that they ask the community to assess their work at the end of the semester, but the mode of feedback is devised collaboratively by the student and community members. The relationship between the student and the community is the main focus of our model, designed to be bidirectional The ability to move, transfer or transmit in both directions. .
The instructor and school also develop relationships with the community and provide some assessment of the degree to which students' work actually provided movement toward social change. Our model also emphasizes that the instructor will provide information about social context, history, and research about community practice approaches and examples. Practitioners are essential mentors, though it is imperative that students not fall back on them or on agency structures simply because these are known, easy, and comfortable. The model is designed to assist students in developing communities of practice that view indigenous experts and the community itself as possessing primary standpoints on the problem and solutions. The model aims to help students view each other as sources of knowledge and to rely on both their fellow students and community members for feedback and assistance throughout the course as well as their lifetime practice.
This model is designed to move students from a state of reliance on the instructor and other more institutionalized in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize
tr.v. in·sti·tu·tion·al·ized, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·ing, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·es
a. To make into, treat as, or give the character of an institution to.
b. forms of knowledge to one in which they rely on indigenous experts within their practice community. This is the essence of communities of practice occurring through the use of situated learning. This is an antioppressive approach to community practice that aims to transform not only students, but also the community by creating true social change that is grounded in the knowledge construction of those ultimately experiencing the problem.
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
The Use of Scaffolding in Applying Situated Learning to Foster Communities of Practice
The establishment of communities of practice requires a scaffolding technique that encourages peer-learning and collaborative activism, as well as the transfer of knowledge horizontally and vertically (Wenger, 2010). Our model of communities of practice relies on the use of a scaffolding technique we have developed (see Figure 1) explicitly for this purpose. Scaffolding is a way of providing structure as the community practice project, the keystone key·stone
1. Architecture The central wedge-shaped stone of an arch that locks its parts together. Also called headstone.
2. The central supporting element of a whole. of the course, builds. The scaffold scaffold
Temporary platform used to elevate and support workers and materials during work on a structure or machine. It consists of one or more wooden planks and is supported by either a timber or a tubular steel or aluminum frame; bamboo is used in parts of Asia. comprises formal contact with the instructor and others in the network (i.e., community of practice), assignments, and informal experiences and connections. We have identified CLMs that are addressed directly by the structure of the assignments, contacts, and connections. The CLMs are identified in the course model (see Figure 2), and scaffolding techniques occur in the relationships among the members of the communities of practice. The scaffolding of the course, then, begins to fall away as the students achieve their competencies and the project is completed, with a sustainability plan in place based on the students' reports of community feedback.
Our scaffolding model promotes movement through each CLM CLM - Career Limiting Move at different stages of the community project, assisting students in translating these moments into action. The foundation of the model is a feedback system whereby assignments require contact with the community and action in response to the community's expressed needs. The instructor helps students process the response to each stage of the project, such as anxiety or excitement, and provides encouragement, caution, or both, along with advice for how to proceed. Assignments at different stages of the project are paced throughout the semester according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the appropriate skill-building task; the assignments build on one another, as students complete each step (see Table 1). Importantly, consistent with our version of situated learning, the assignments involve writing about experiences in the community, contextualized by literature in the field of community practice. In addition to recounting events that occur, such as meetings the students arrange with community members, they write about the theories they use to frame their preparation for the meetings and their analysis of the content of the events. Each assignment requires the students' forethought fore·thought
1. Deliberation, consideration, or planning beforehand.
2. Preparation or thought for the future. See Synonyms at prudence. about planning for the next stages and feedback from the community about their analysis and plans.
The step-by-step assignments are designed to present the students with stages of learning about how the community is defining the problem and viewing possible solutions. We bring guest speakers to class who are grassroots activists or members of various communities who have themselves experienced specific difficulties and have worked to overcome them within their own communities. For example, we have invited women factory workers who successfully organized their colleagues in a union campaign and later a strike, and individuals who had experienced homelessness and subsequently worked toward affordable housing in their community. We bring in people or groups to illustrate the importance of working alongside indigenous experts to develop communities of practice. We also use group work in the classroom to foster students' development of peers as part of their network of communities of practice. If students are working on their projects in the community and have questions or concerns, we encourage them to first seek advice from their community guides, next from their fellow students, and lastly from the instructor and/or professionals in the community.
The Use of Authentic Assessment
To assess how far students have progressed through their CLMs and which issues might need to be readdressed, students work toward real-world outcomes that represent actual community practice. Their work is assessed and evaluated through "deliverables'--papers, artifacts artifacts
see specimen artifacts. , and finally, portfolios containing all of the students' work. Communities can use the portfolios as "how-to" guides to sustain the efforts beyond the academic term.
Because our model takes a community-based/community-driven focus, we are also concerned with how the communities assess the students' work. Several informal mechanisms solicit this community feedback: community members' visits to the classroom during student final presentations, videos or digital photos of community members' perspectives of the project and the student/community relationship, and communication with the instructor (such as e-mail or phone calls) from community members/indigenous experts who have worked with students. However, we are interested in strengthening this aspect of our model and plan to include more formalized for·mal·ize
tr.v. for·mal·ized, for·mal·iz·ing, for·mal·iz·es
1. To give a definite form or shape to.
a. To make formal.
b. structures for eliciting community feedback for future implementations of the model in our courses.
A critical piece of the course assignments and project is that the students write about how they are working with the community in real time, as the project plans evolve. They also discuss how the other parts of the network are actively participating. A practitioner in a community of practice advised students that if the students were doing all the work, then it was a service project rather than community practice. This was significant, because the students had become overwhelmed o·ver·whelm
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
a. at the prospect of the work ahead of them, but then realized they were not in it alone. We also stress that this kind of writing is essential in practice, beyond graduation Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony. The date of event is often called degree day. The event itself is also called commencement, convocation or invocation. . They will be reading professional journals and other literature and writing both formally and informally a great deal. All of their communication should blend a solid understanding of contextual information from the broad practice and research literature with narratives about the people and communities that are affected locally. They will need to demonstrate their ability to communicate the important issues and the urgency for action to a variety of audiences. Helping students understand the real-life skills needed to compel Compel - COMpute ParallEL change efforts efficiently and to evaluate their own competency is one basis for our application of authentic assessment.
Applications: Teaching and Learning About Community Practice in Place
Both courses are conducted as seminars that include discussions of assigned readings, some brief lectures, guest speakers from the community, student workgroups and presentations, and/or facilitation Facilitation
The process of providing a market for a security. Normally, this refers to bids and offers made for large blocks of securities, such as those traded by institutions. of discussions and activities. Students are responsible for completing tasks on a schedule to make progress toward the project goals. They are accountable to their student peers and colleagues in the community in addition to achieving a grade. Objectives for the courses include identifying and applying theoretical frameworks and practice techniques related to practice with task groups, organizations, and for advocacy and social planning.
Each course meets for 3 hours once a week; usually there are 25-30 students. Because much coordination with the community and ongoing supervision of student projects is necessary, whenever possible course instructors employ graduate students as teaching assistants. However, this is not often possible, which is one of the main drawbacks of the model we describe here. The model can be more teaching intensive, but the authors believe the pay-off in student and community outcomes is worth it.
Theories about privilege and oppression and how they function also are introduced through short lectures and discussions in the courses. These discussions connect students' everyday experiences with evidence in the social science literature about how power operates in social systems to produce unearned benefits for some groups and discrimination against others. Along with a reading list of journal articles, both courses use Community Organizing and Development (Rubin & Rubin, 2008) as a core text, which provides a variety of theoretical frameworks and specific models for community practice grounded in a structural level analysis of privilege and oppression. Active learning exercises simulating situations in which unfair advantage is conferred con·fer
v. con·ferred, con·fer·ring, con·fers
1. To bestow (an honor, for example): conferred a medal on the hero; conferred an honorary degree on her. on some classroom members and disadvantage on others help students develop empathy empathy
Ability to imagine oneself in another's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. The empathic actor or singer is one who genuinely feels the part he or she is performing. . We consider ourselves anchors in the students' communities of practice, bridges between the classroom and their outside learning environments. Both courses are centered on students' work toward a tangible end involving goals for social change, manifested in group projects (see Table 2).
Project feasibility must be a consideration, to the extent that students must understand the resources that may be necessary and how to secure them. An assignment in one of the courses teaches students how to acquire program funding. Projects have included designing a homeless shelter, implementing programs to address domestic violence in a local Native American community, and increasing access to medical care for non-English-speaking immigrants in a nearby city. Other projects have included organizing a youth summit with adolescents at-risk for involvement in the criminal justice system, a project focused on older adults in an assisted living as·sist·ed living
A living arrangement in which people with special needs, especially older people with disabilities, reside in a facility that provides help with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, and taking medication. facility connecting them with various religious communities, and the development of a before-school childcare co-op program with low-income parents.
Stage I: Make Contact, Identify Community and Issue for Collaborative Effort
In the early stages of the community project (Define/Assess) students typically experience anxiety as their CLM. Following our model, this is where the first two assignments require students to interview community members, grassroots activists, and individuals who have firsthand knowledge of a specific problem or need within their community. This stage of our approach usually produces either initial resistance on the part of students or an early decision to jump in and actively engage. We then use classroom discourse and group discussions to provide encouragement for students to continue their community engagement.
In the first 2 weeks, the introduction to the course, students form groups of four or five and seek ideas by talking with people involved in an issue. Each student makes contacts for regular ongoing consultation; the issue may start with students' interest or past experience. The purpose of first contact and development of the communities of practice is to prevent students from choosing their community projects based purely on their own interests or prior knowledge. The students usually start with their own passion, but they need to choose the issues to be addressed based on authentic need as identified by the community. Students also often struggle with the desire to determine at the outset what the answer to the problem is and start forming concrete plans for intervention in the community, before looking at it from several different perspectives. The mechanism of developing situated knowledge is explained to students so they are prepared to experience relationships that may shift their understanding of privilege and oppression, along with their growing reliance on the communities of practice they are simultaneously developing.
However, the importance of first partnering with local individuals who have unique knowledge of the phenomena is one of the most difficult concepts for our students to grasp. We spend a great deal of time in class slowing our students down from their attempts to solve a problem that they themselves have determined is a pressing need. Because the assignments are completed in installments, the students are required to first locate multiple indigenous community experts. As examples, this could be someone who has been homeless, experienced living in poverty, dropped out of high school to have a baby, or has been advocating for young teens at-risk in the community. If they are interested in neighborhood or community revitalization re·vi·tal·ize
tr.v. re·vi·tal·ized, re·vi·tal·iz·ing, re·vi·tal·iz·es
To impart new life or vigor to: plans to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods; tried to revitalize a flagging economy. , for instance, we require them to talk with activists, community leaders, and religious leaders in that particular neighborhood to determine how local citizens define the problem or need. Students bring what they have learned back to the classroom, where they talk with their student colleagues. As instructors, we facilitate these discussions and attempt to slow students down when they seem to be making assumptions or leaping too far ahead to the problem-solving stage.
At this point we bring in guest speakers with a variety of grassroots experiences of activism. This provides students opportunities to ask questions (in a classroom environment, perhaps less uncertain than the community environment) of individuals or groups who could be considered indigenous experts. The speakers present skill-building workshops (vs. traditional lectures) to which students bring questions about their actual practice projects around which they can problem-solve.
In this stage students must visit the community members and sites often, explore the alternatives the community has tried, and design their plans in collaboration with the community. We emphasize contact with indigenous community guides (Ungar et al., 2004), although students initially want to rely only on professionals and academics for information. Most students explain that this is because of convenience and comfort level. We have addressed this by structuring the assignments to ensure that students speak extensively with nonprofessionals first.
Scaffolding. In class we discuss the goals of macro practice, what action plans look like, and how they are developed over time. We may help identify community, group, or potential contacts or provide guidance about how to make contact and clarify roles for each community of practice member. We help students think pragmatically about community needs in terms of unaddressed issues and access to the group. This is essential, because students may have unrealistic ideas about the kinds of practice they can achieve. We encourage them to be ambitious; however, we know from experience that some populations, such as prisoners or vulnerable children, will be nearly impossible to gain access to on a regular basis. Our early emphasis is on developing students' skills so they can take more advanced steps in their own practice and complete larger-scale community change. Students must regularly consult with communities of practice members, as questions or concerns arise. The outcomes of their project are defined by the gains for the community, beyond the students' learning or satisfaction, and are partially assessed by community members. As the project progresses the instructor takes an increasingly peripheral role in students' direct access to information on their chosen social problem and its potential solution. It is our role as instructors using this model either to push and prod or slow students down at key points in the process of their community project, bringing into the classroom the appropriate supports such as workshops, guest speakers, role plays, group exercises, and classroom dialogue.
Outcomes and assessment. The writing assignments require students to reflect on their experiences working with community members and with their fellow students. They make connections between students' understanding of privilege and oppression and the ways in which this understanding changed (or did not) based on their work with communities. The instructor provides feedback, and students bring back evidence of contacts (formal and informal) and a brief project proposal. We also request that students collect and implement community feedback throughout the course, with an explicit requirement that they solicit community-based assessment of the outcomes of their project. Students use this information to map and diagram their communities of practice, which undergo revision throughout the semester, showing how contacts grow and interconnect.
Stages II and III: Planning and Implementation
During the second stage in our scaffolding model (Model/Plan) students sometimes become too enthusiastic and want to rush into the planning stages before sufficient partnering with the community has occurred. Through feedback, we slow the process down. When students bring back theoretically based models and plans that are not sufficiently grounded in the community's needs, we use classroom discussion, group exercises, and role plays to illustrate the failure of intervention that does not reflect community needs and desires. We discuss what it means to develop a truly collaborative approach using strategies and tactics appropriate to the specific community (Rubin & Rubin, 2008).
Scaffolding. The scaffolding model requires providing appropriate feedback to each student group at each stage of the process, and as each CLM occurs (see Figure 1). Students do not progress to the next stage of their assignment until they have received this feedback.
In the classroom we discuss a variety of plans, strategies, tactics, and all parts of the action plan that had been briefly introduced at the beginning of the term. We help students plug in the pieces using the information gathered in the first stage of their project and explain how to fill gaps with further contact and research. We discuss what feasibility and sustainability mean, and how to assess these dimensions and create plans that include them. Now the instructor must act as a coach, rarely intervening and primarily requiring accountability from student teams. The students must demonstrate how all parts of the plan are commensurate com·men·su·rate
1. Of the same size, extent, or duration as another.
2. Corresponding in size or degree; proportionate: a salary commensurate with my performance.
3. with antioppressive practice and appropriate to the community, engaging all partners equitably and promoting the voices of those most affected by the action. Then, consulting with communities of practice, the students use an action plan model (e.g., template (1) A pre-designed document or data file formatted for common purposes such as a fax, invoice or business letter. If the document contains an automated process, such as a word processing macro or spreadsheet formula, then the programming is already written and embedded in the outlined in a journal article, from the required text for the course, or perhaps provided by a guest speaker or workshop facilitator).
The final stage is implementation. Students put the project into operation, complete final reports, and contemplate any outcomes, including the community's assessment of the students' work. At this stage, they usually exhibit realization of the difficulty involved in conducting community work as their CLM. Once again, encouragement is needed as a proper feedback response, and we use in-class examples of past student projects or group exercises designed to encourage students to maintain their commitment to the community. We encourage students to ask community members to contemplate outcomes--most likely process rather than summative Adj. 1. summative - of or relating to a summation or produced by summation
additive - characterized or produced by addition; "an additive process" at this point--that are important to them. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , what has the community gained from the experience? This way, we ask students to frame the community-centered quality of the project, rather than referencing only the skill-building tasks they personally have mastered. Although student outcomes related to these skill-building tasks and specific constructs from the course (see Tables 1 and 2) are important, our model of communities of practice requires that students move beyond simply viewing the community as a laboratory.
Outcomes and assessment. Essential to social work education, the students report the results of what they have learned and achieved, realizing the concept of social work competency. Self-assessment surveys and group consultations with the instructors underscore The underscore character (_) is often used to make file, field and variable names more readable when blank spaces are not allowed. For example, NOVEL_1A.DOC, FIRST_NAME and Start_Routine.
(character) underscore - _, ASCII 95. the need for self-awareness and continual feedback from multiple sources. Then we can compare the students' sense of accomplishment and competence with the products of their work during the term. They--and we---see transformations in their ability to work in groups, engage with people in the community, form long-term relationships with peers and colleagues, and address serious social issues with meaningful, sustainable projects.
The final portfolios include a full written guide consisting of all student papers throughout the semester, revised to a format that is given to the community members who will sustain the effort. The students also supply any materials that they have gathered or created for the project, such as grant templates, flyers, brochures, Internet or electronic resources, marketing materials, and handbooks. The communities can build on this work, and in one case a grant that students wrote for the continuation of their community project was given to the community to submit and was funded the following year. Moreover, the students have used their portfolios on graduation as they apply for jobs and further academic careers. This is not to say that their anxiety is completely relieved; in fact, it is often heightened as they realize their skills and responsibility to continue the work in their practice, whether their focus is first and foremost on individual or community practice.
As with all developing methods, there are lessons to be learned when teaching an antioppressive approach to community practice. Our students have produced impressive achievements, for which we take little credit. As they gain confidence and take risks that previously would have been frightening and nerve-wracking, their creativity and best social work skills emerge and flower. However, heeding some caveats can smooth the process. One hurdle HURDLE, Eng. law. A species of sledge, used to draw traitors to execution. we face is time constraints CONSTRAINTS - A language for solving constraints using value inference.
["CONSTRAINTS: A Language for Expressing Almost-Hierarchical Descriptions", G.J. Sussman et al, Artif Intell 14(1):1-39 (Aug 1980)]. , and the fact that students move toward an understanding of privilege and oppression at different rates. A common pitfall pit·fall
1. An unapparent source of trouble or danger; a hidden hazard: "potential pitfalls stemming from their optimistic inflation assumptions" New York Times. we have observed is that sometimes students gain insufficient knowledge about their target community and engagement with their community guides (Ungar et al., 2004). Regardless of how much scaffolding and how many subsequent group exercises and role plays we design and implement, these few students who do not take the time they need or who encounter more resistance than anticipated are frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: . Thus, we designed our model to contain several places to stop and assess student progress. Ideally, students will demonstrate readiness before moving to the next stage; but differential rates of student growth and larger class sizes can present challenges to supervision.
This relates to a second challenge within our model. We currently request that students gather community feedback at each stage of the project, and that they gather information on the community's assessment of their efforts at the end of the project. However, this is done through informal mechanisms and therefore does not provide the instructors and the class with thorough community-based feedback about outcomes. We realize that this gap can weaken the linkages between the student and the community and are working to develop more formal pathways for community assessment to occur.
A third challenge in teaching this type of course is to recognize that some communities have institutionalized pathways to engagement that make it easier for students to locate and partner with community guides. When the school of social work, faculty members, and staff have established ongoing relationships with community organizations, neighborhood groups, and grassroots activists, student groups will have much easier access. Though we do not directly assist in initiating relationships between the students and communities, our prior knowledge of the communities has proven helpful in advising students who have difficulty finding contacts or have problems with communication. Because a major goal of our model is to train students to rely on community experts, in many cases this also serves to ease some of the intense supervision that would otherwise be required. As the students develop their skills, the instructor can step back and provide progressively less hands-on support.
If no relationship exists, however, or the population is known to be difficult to engage, students may encounter more obstacles. Most of the established relationships that schools of social work and faculty members have created may be with typical social service organizations. They may not have worked as consistently to develop relationships with what Delgado (1998) calls nontraditional settings, organizations, or groups. One of the benefits to this method is that it takes students out of more traditional academic and field environments, where they learn different skills that complement the rest of the curriculum. We encourage students and advise them about different kinds of communication and ways to approach community partners with humility Humility
See also Modesty.
Humorousness (See WITTINESS.)
Bernadette Soubirous, St.
humble girl to whom Virgin Mary appeared. [Christian Hagiog.: Attwater, 65–66]
washes dishes even though a cardinal. and respect, rather than fear. Part of this approach to antioppressive practice requires us as faculty facilitators to understand and acknowledge the importance of nontraditional social work organizations, groups, and settings and to pursue ongoing relationships with these grassroots groups. This is yet another way that this approach is transformational for us as teachers, as well as for our students.
Another challenge that instructors face when using this approach is that antioppressive community practice often takes a discursive dis·cur·sive
1. Covering a wide field of subjects; rambling.
2. Proceeding to a conclusion through reason rather than intuition. or nonlinear A system in which the output is not a uniform relationship to the input.
nonlinear - (Scientific computation) A property of a system whose output is not proportional to its input. trajectory Trajectory
The curve described by a body moving through space, as of a meteor through the atmosphere, a planet around the Sun, a projectile fired from a gun, or a rocket in flight. , and the institutional constraints of the 15- or 16-week semester forces a more linear track. This factor has resulted in some frustration for students and community members who feel that, just as relationships are becoming strong, the semester comes to an end. We account for this in part with our model, by emphasizing skills in fostering communities of practice that should continue to be used long after the semester is over. We also have addressed this challenge by asking our institutions to rethink re·think
tr. & intr.v. re·thought , re·think·ing, re·thinks
To reconsider (something) or to involve oneself in reconsideration.
re the sequence of this course. The first author's school responded positively to the author's request that the course be moved from the last semester of students' senior year to the first semester of their senior year. This will allow students to continue with projects begun in the course, either through alternative field practicum practicum (prak´tikm),
n See internship. placements or independent studies for the following semester. Both authors are also examining ways the university or school of social work can assist in providing resources for students to continue projects with the community.
Finally, support for learning about active and collaborative teaching and learning methods is essential. Numerous resources are available through social work organizations and professional meetings, such as annual conferences of the Council on Social Work Education The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the national association for social work education in the United States of America.
The CSWE sets and maintains standards of courses and accreditation of bachelor's degree's and Master's degree programs in social work. , and through journals that focus on social work education. Both authors of the current article are also fortunate to have valuable centers for teaching and learning on our campuses and have positioned the use of this model as a form of scholarship of teaching and learning The SoTL movement
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL; pronounced so'.tl or S O T and L) is a growing movement in post-secondary education. , which both universities recognize and reward. These centers have public access sites that provide information and instruction on many such teaching and learning methods (see Illinois State University, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, http://www.teachtech.ilstu.edu/; Illinois State University, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, http://www.sotl.ilstu.edu/; and Michigan State University Michigan State University, at East Lansing; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1855. It opened in 1857 as Michigan Agricultural College, the first state agricultural college. , Office of Faculty and Organizational Development, http://fod.msu.edu and Center for Teaching and Technology, http://ctt.educ.msu.edu/). We also encourage continued contact with students, so we can follow their progress after graduation and present accounts of community change with which they are involved.
Conclusion and Future Directions
This teaching and learning method can be intensive for instructors, but "front-loading" and slower, measured progress (even though the semester might seem quite short) makes the tasks manageable. For students the process feels overwhelming at times but is ultimately rewarding (for all but the most anxious students). As a group, we have realized benefits for the community, class, school, and curriculum. The model appears to be fully replicable and provides evidence of effectiveness at many levels, especially in terms of meeting competencies. Enhanced evaluations and assessment, most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially from community members themselves, can be further developed to show whether and how students are achieving competencies and creating social change; and formal ongoing follow-up with alumni will advance our understanding of how students apply the knowledge and skills learned to their practice and careers.
Anderson, K. J., & Smith, G. (2005). Students' preconceptions of professors: Benefits and barriers according to ethnicity ethnicity Vox populi Racial status–ie, African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic and gender. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences behavioral sciences,
n.pl those sciences devoted to the study of human and animal behavior. , 27(2), 184-201.
Atherton, J. S. (2010). Learning and teaching: Experiential learning. Retrieved from http://www.learningandteaching. info/learning/experience.htm
Boud, D., & Feletti, G. (1997). The challenge of problem-based learning (2nd ed.). London, UK: Routledge.
Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (1996). Implementing service learning in higher education. Journal of Higher Education, 67(2), 221-239.
Burke, K. (2009). How to assess authentic learning. Thousand Oaks Thousand Oaks, residential city (1990 pop. 104,352), Ventura co., S Calif., in a farm area; inc. 1964. Avocados, citrus, vegetables, strawberries, and nursery products are grown. , CA: Corwin-Sage.
Darling-Hammond, L., Ancess, J., & Falk, B. (1995). Authentic assessment in action: Studies of schools and students at work. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , NY: Teachers College Press.
Delgado, M. (1998). Social work practice in non-traditional urban settings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) is a theoretical description of how newcomers become experienced members and eventually old timers of a community of practice or collaborative project. . Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press.
Mildred, J., & Zuniga, X. (2004). Working with resistance to diversity issues in the classroom: Lessons from teacher training and multicultural education. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 74(2), 359-375.
Paris, S. G., & Ayres, L. R. (1994). Becoming reflective students and teachers with portfolios and authentic assessment. Washington, DC: APA (All Points Addressable) Refers to an array (bitmapped screen, matrix, etc.) in which all bits or cells can be individually manipulated.
APA - Application Portability Architecture Press.
Pewewardy, N. (2007). Challenging White privilege White privilege has the following meanings:
Reisch, M., & Andrews, J. (2002). The road not taken: A history of radical social work in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.
Roche, S. E., Dewees, M., Trailweaver, R., Alexander, S., Cuddy cud·dy 1
n. pl. cud·dies
1. Nautical A small cabin or the cook's galley on a ship.
2. A small room, cupboard, or closet.
[Origin unknown. , C., & Handy, M. (1999). Contesting boundaries in social work education: A liberatory approach to cooperative learning cooperative learning Education theory A student-centered teaching strategy in which heterogeneous groups of students work to achieve a common academic goal–eg, completing a case study or a evaluating a QC problem. See Problem-based learning, Socratic method. and teaching. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.
Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2008). Community organizing and development (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Ungar, M., Manuel, S., Mealey, S., Thomas, G., & Campbell, C. (2004). A study of community guides: Lessons for professionals practicing with and in communities. Social Work, 49, 550-561.
Van Soest, D., Canon, R., & Grant, D. (2000). Using an interactive website to educate about cultural diversity and societal so·ci·e·tal
Of or relating to the structure, organization, or functioning of society.
Adj. oppression. Journal of Social Work Education, 36, 463-479.
Van Soest, D., & Garcia, B. (2003). Diversity education for social justice: Mastering teaching skills. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.
Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice: Learning as a social system. Retrieved from http://www.wetlands.za.net/ documents/communities%20of%20practice/Communities% 20of%20Practice%20Learning%20as%20a%20Social%20System,%20Wenger%2098.pdf
Zuniga, X., Naagda, B. A., & Sevig, T. D. (2002). Intergroup in·ter·group
Being or occurring between two or more social groups: intergroup relations; intergroup violence. dialogues: An educational model for cultivating engagement across differences. Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(10), 7-17.
Illinois State University
Marya R. Sosulski
Michigan State University
Cynthia Edmonds-Cady is assistant professor at Illinois State University. Marya R. Sosulski is associate professor at Michigan State University.
Address correspondence to Cynthia Edmonds-Cady at Illinois State University, School of Social Work, Campus Box 4650, Normal, IL 61790; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) A method of applying a persistent name to documents, publications and other resources on the Internet rather than using a URL, which can change over time. : 10.5175/JSWE.2012.201000010
TABLE 1. Skill-Building Tasks for Antioppressive Practice Matched With Project Assignments Skills How Evidenced in Courses Define social Both courses Paper A: literature review, problem report on interviews with community members, incorporate information from guest lectures Conduct community Both courses Paper B: report on progress assessment in interviews with community members, professionals; report on observations in the field, use of local demographic data Choose model Both courses Paper C: research several of social change models of social change & social movements (text, readings, Internet research); apply most appropriate theory and model Design Both courses Paper D: create community action step-by-step plan that includes all plan stakeholders' perspectives, identifies potential conflicts, solutions; identifies all stakeholders, primary change agents, resources, initiation of change, follow-through, and post implementation; budget and timeline Implementation Course A Final report: written report presented to community with appendices outlining plan and all materials developed for implementation (e.g., letters to acquire resources, diagrams of community spaces, field notes of interactions with stakeholders, description of processes for replication) Course B Final report, including any modifications that were made to each section of the project, based on community input Outcomes Course B Paper E: report on any outcomes, including process based, related to the project's implementation within the community; include recommendations for further progress of project Funding Course B Includes a grant-writing assignment and funding simulation in which students can look for funding for their community project TABLE 2. Constructs and Assignments Included in Courses Activities/Scaffolded Component Assignments Expert Information from * Lecture/ discussion; guest knowledge community members, speakers sources social work * Weekly writing assignments practitioners and focused on readings other * Reflections on experiences professionals, with community members instructor(s), academic literature Privilege & Awareness of * Lecture/discussion oppression structural * Active learning exercises in theories advantage, classroom disadvantage; * Readings (textbook, journal "self- articles) consciousness"; intersectionality Communities Interactions with * Guest speakers of practice community members, (community members, interactions professionals in grass-roots activists) the field, peers * Formal student reports to (other students), community, peers, instructor(s) instructor(s) Course B only: Work alongside community members Situated Students engage in Student time in field learning moderately high- gathering information for opportunities stakes commitment community assessment, project to community change plan/design, providing and take guidance for plan responsibility for implementation follow-through (with community, Course B only: Interaction instructors) with members of change target