Enacting a limit case of autonomous service-learning : insights from an ethnographic inquiry into a contemporary application of the pedagogy
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Service-learning (SL) is a socially embedded and experience-based pedagogy that develops the link between theory and practice through community engagement. It fosters learning outcomes for students and benefits for community members. This thesis builds on recent applications of the pedagogy and advances our understanding of SL by studying a limit case of student autonomy in the absence of faculty intervention. Student-community and peer-to-peer relationships are particularly influential on students’ lived experience if their interactions are unmediated by educators. This thesis firstly explores how students enact SL if left to their own devices. Secondly, by adopting a relational embeddedness perspective, it investigates the influence of student-community and peer-to-peer relations on participants’ learning experience. An organisational (“at-home”) ethnography in a student-led social enterprise yielded insights into the two streams of research. The findings suggest that students’ learning process consisted of a blend of emergent and deliberate micro learning processes that highlight the importance of - among other components of students’ learning experience - role enactment, student autonomy, peer engagement, informal learning, and community co-education. With regards to the relationality of this limit case of SL, community and peer relations had an enabling and constraining influence on student learning. The findings further speak to the causality of such impact and suggest that the nature of inter-personal relationships determined the effects they had on students’ experiential basis for learning. These findings contribute to the debate about the promise, effectiveness, and principles of SL in business and management education by problematizing student autonomy and faculty intervention. Moreover, this thesis responds to a gap in the literature and sheds light on the relationality of the pedagogy.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2023-11-09
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 9th November 2023
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