This time it is the teachers who are in a class. Normally it is the students who attend our service-learning classes. Today we are in a workshop learning how to assess the quality of a service-learning course (subject), from one of the pioneers, Professor Andrew Furco. He has been tirelessly researching, teaching, and promoting service-learning all over the world. He has also been giving us a lot of help over the years.
30+ teachers from PolyU, Baptist U, Lingnan U and HKU (and perhaps some other university that I missed) sat for 3 hours to learn to “grade” a service-learning course using 28 measures. It is hard. We argued, or at least debated intensively, whether the service prescribed are too “light” and can actually achieve the intended learning objectives. We tried to guess whether the discussions as prescribed in the syllabus can actually help the students link the academic content to the issues uncovered through the service.
Whatever the conclusion each of us drew from the workshop, we participated vigorously. And we learned a lot. From the workshop, from each other. Just like many other things in education, there is no absolute answer to these kind of questions. We learn incrementally, relatively.
I was struck with one thought towards the end of the workshop. It is not really common for teachers in universities to be so excited about the quality of teaching. Why are so keen then? Perhaps it is because we do actually fervently believe in the power of service-learning in particular, and in education in general? Too bad that service-learning is only one of the 40 courses that an undergraduate student has to take. If the 39 other courses are getting as much attention, …