22 SES 06 D, Student Learning and Performances
Previous studies indicated that universities must take action to assist students in seeking the meaning of life. A meaningful life helps individuals build self-confidence, strong beliefs, stress coping strategies, and happiness. Meaning in life in this study was defined as identifying the uniqueness of the self and others, and a life purpose. Participating in service learning helps students develop their self-value and caring for others. However, students required further assistance in understanding how to set goals and take action after the participation of service learning (Su, Pan & Chen, 2014).
In service learning, course design and diverse course methods must be considered; in addition, opportunities for self-reflection should be provided. Through literature review and action research, this study investigated how educators in Taiwan integrated a professional course, Children Play, with the Project of Developing Knowledge-Sharing Based on the Study Group via the Internet Platform (SGIP). This study also illuminated how 9 sophomores, also prospectiveteachers of young children, learned about the meaning of life from this project. The SGIP was designed by Fu Jen University Service Learning Center. Activities of SGIP were jointly promoted by the university faculty members, college students and elementary school teachers. These activities were (1) picture book reading; (2) discussion of picture books between the college students and the elementary school students on a web-based platform for at least 10 minutes per week for 10—12 weeks (each group consisted of approximately two college students and one elementary school student); (3) two 2-hour visits by college students to elementary school classrooms; (4) reflection on activity participation by the college students in the participating departments’ courses.
In this study, literature reviews firstly were conducted to explore university students’ needs in seeking the meaning of life, including Erikson’s psychosocial development theory. Other reviews were conducted to find the definition of meaning of life, and to determine the theoretical framework of the course design. Subsequently, this paper described how an on-campus service-learning project at a university was integrated with the researchers' teaching methods and course design. According to experiential teaching proposed by Boud, Cohen, and Walker (1993), a 16-week course based on Children’s Play was conducted by the researchers. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with these 9 sophomores, service learning growth scale, college students’ discussion content with elementary students in the online SGIP forum, college students’ reflection, and the researchers’ discussion. Following the within-case analysis, an across-case analysis was performed (Creswell, 1998) to examine the dissimilarity and similarity among students learning in finding life meaning through the course participation. In addition, we analyzed the mean scores of the participants on the service learning growth scale. Finally, the researchers adopted the peer debriefing method (Patton, 2002) to ensure the trustworthiness of the data analysis.
The results showed that the course design integrated service learning helped the college students find their growth of professional ability and the meaning of life. Their meaning of life included determining their future goals, ascertaining the growth of professional development, and various abilities need to be developed. According to the results, the researchers also discussed the following four points: (a) the relationship between students’ pursuit of their goals and professional learning; (b) course methods that provided opportunities for the students to understand the meaning of life; (c) what the researchers’ reflection on this study and lesson learned; (d) suggestions and research limitations.
Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Walker, D. (1993). Understanding learning from experience. In D. Boud, R. Cohe & D Walker (Eds.) Using experience for learning (pp.1-17). Buckingham: SRHE & Open University Press. Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York: W. W. Norton and Company. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Su, Y., Pan, R., & Chen, K. (2014). Encountering selves and others: Finding meaning in life through action and reflection on a social service learning program. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 8(2), 43-52.
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