Revealing Shifts in Attitude among Undergraduates Participating in Academic Service Learning Programs
Operant Subjectivity , Volume 30 - Issue 1/2 p. 23- 51
Our research focuses on the design and implementation of collaborative learning environments. We use an academic service-learning model, the Fifth Dimension, to bring together resources from university and community organizations in order to provide practicum experience to university students and enriched learning opportunities to under-served children in the local community. One of the tasks that continually confronts us is the assessment of the impact of these interventions on our undergraduate participants. Q methodology, as it was designed expressly to study attitudes, perspectives, and world views, has proven to be particularly appropriate here. This paper describes our application of Q methodology in understanding the changes between pre- and post-term attitudes about teaching and learning in undergraduate students. It is our contention that practicum experience provides the opportunity for a holistic type of undergraduate development not possible in traditional classroom settings. Our results show that while marked shifts in attitude did occur during the class, the mindsets that the undergraduates brought with them into the program influenced the nature of those changes.