Faculty perspectives on facilitating holistic learning for engaged citizenship

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Sturm-Smith, Melissa
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Nancy J. Evans
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the experiences of professors participating in an institution-wide effort to educate students for engaged citizenship at Drake University, a Midwestern private institution that explicitly claims to prepare students for citizenship as part of the university mission statement. The institutional effort embeds civic learning into the general education curriculum and also includes a connected co-curricular component. In the study I sought to address deficits in the current research literature regarding faculty motivation to participate in institutionally driven civic education and faculty perceptions of the role of co-curricular learning in civic education.

The sources of data for the study included: transcripts of interviews with 11 faculty members who were teaching a course flagged as fulfilling the university's engaged citizen requirement, course documents provided by the interview participants, and field notes from an engaged citizen faculty development workshop. The data were coded and analyzed, and then organized into four themes: 1) the <&ldquo>pathways<&rdquo> of teaching for engaged citizenship; 2) the process of navigating tensions at the personal, classroom, and institutional level; 3) the types of citizenship professors are preparing students to practice; and 4) perceptions of the role of co-curricular learning.

A finding that is a new contribution to the literature was that many faculty were motivated to participate as teachers in the institutional civic education initiative because they felt that the course they were teaching naturally aligned with civic engagement outcomes, and therefore was not an additional component or an obstacle. The study confirmed previous research that curricular and co-curricular civic education efforts remain separate and unconnected.

The findings of the study can inform the efforts of higher education administrators and student affairs educators who seek to support their institutions' commitment to integrated civic education by carefully integrating curricular and co-curricular learning. The study also has implications for faculty members who are interested in participating in efforts to educate students for engaged citizenship. Recommendations for future research include comparing the perspectives of faculty and students about their understanding of engaged citizenship and the role of co-curricular learning.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2012