On Tuesday, November 17th, Becca Berkey, director of Service-Learning at Northeastern, Lisa Roe, assistant director of Service-Learning at Northeastern, Hilary Schuldt, associate director of the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning through Research at Northeastern, and Gail Begley, director of the University PreHealth Program, presented their preliminary research on the second day of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) conference. Northeastern, in collaboration with Massachusetts Campus Compact, was the institutional host of the 2015 conference.
Their presentation, titled “Undergraduates as Innovation Partners in Teaching & Learning: Lessons from the Service-Learning Teaching Assistant Program,” was included in a session on faculty development, and directly followed the findings of two Taiwanese presenters who reached a critical conclusion in their research: “‘providing with a teaching assistant’ was the most important factor for faculty” engaging in service-learning. (Chiu & Huang)
Berkey, Begley, Roe, and Schuldt spoke to a similar subject matter, drawing upon their interviews with faculty members in which they were told time and again how critical an S-LTA has been to the success of their course, and their partnership with a community partner. The over-arching aim of their research was to assess how the S-LTA program contributes to faculty development, and their preliminary findings have thus far pointed to a number of unexpected benefits faculty have experienced through working with an undergraduate S-LTA.
The presenters that preceded the group from Northeastern spoke of the many challenges and barriers that faculty might perceive to engaging in service-learning. Berkey and her colleagues offered the idea that the development of an S-LTA program acts as a sort of carrot to entice and also to reassure faculty when encouraging them to add an S-L component to their course.
The group plans to continue to analyze and elaborate on their findings.