Interdisciplinary collaboration in undergraduate service-learning

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S4-13  Tue Jan 5 16:00 – 16:15  Interdisciplinary collaboration in undergraduate service-learning Tucker, KP*; Glaser, RL; Marx, M; Kniss, A; Moran, CE; Stevenson University; Stevenson University; Stevenson University; Stevenson University; Stevenson University

Service-learning is an experiential learning strategy where students learn course content and additional relevant skills through completing service with a community partner. Critical reflection is a key component of this pedagogy, requiring students to think about their experiences and how the course content paired with service connects to their lives and the world around them. When reflection is done well, it requires students to integrate expertise from their personal experiences, different disciplines, and the world at large. However, despite the increasing emphasis on interdisciplinarity in higher education, faculty teaching service-learning courses often remain in disciplinary silos. Classes are typically taught by one faculty member in one discipline regardless of the needs of the service-learning project. This is especially true in the sciences, even though the sciences are inherently interdisciplinary. Rarely, though, do science courses extend to relevant content and skills outside of the STEM disciplines. We propose that interdisciplinary collaborations between STEM and non-STEM courses enriches course content, provides a more comprehensive experience for students that highlights the application and interconnection of course content, and increases collaboration within our institutions. We will present a generalizable model for successful interdisciplinary projects and reflections using examples of collaborations between science/design and science/humanities. While the nature of course scheduling, academic department structure, and faculty workload can be barriers to collaboration between faculty, they are not insurmountable. The benefits to the students and the community far outweigh navigating these challenges.

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