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Transformative campus-community service -learning partnerships

Jason T Phillips, Johnson & Wales University


Transformative partnerships share strengths, assets, and resources to challenge policy and practice in order to improve learning, service, and life quality for the greater community (Enos & Morton, 2003). To investigate the transformative nature of working together, this research explored three questions concerning campus-community service-learning partnerships: (1) Can an assessment instrument be developed to measure the type and extent of transformation due to these partnerships? (2) Using the instrument, can transformative partnerships be identified? (3) Can the dynamics and processes of transformative partnerships be delineated and described? To address these questions, a sequential explanatory strategy was used. An assessment instrument, consisting of a questionnaire in two forms and a corresponding display matrix, was developed and subjected to three stages of pilot-testing to establish usability and content validity. The instrument was critiqued by working professionals (N = 16) and modifications were made. The revisions were reexamined by a subset of the original group (n = 4), and the subsequent version was reviewed by national experts (n = 6). The resulting instrument was used with a purposefully selected sample of partnerships (N = 20) involving institutions of higher education and community organizations within one New England state. Institutional service-learning directors (N = 11) were asked to identify partnerships considered to be transformative and to provide contact information for campus partnership coordinators. Campus coordinators were asked to respond to the questionnaire and to provide contact information for community coordinators. Responses from the campus coordinators and community coordinators were used to identify transformative partnerships. Of the 14 partnerships on which information was collected, three were assessed to be transformative and five to be proceeding towards transformation. Coordinators of these partnerships (n = 8), campus or community or both, were interviewed by telephone to determine the transformative dynamics and processes used by the partnerships. This study produced a tested assessment instrument for identifying transformative partnerships and three key dynamics and processes for promoting transformative campus-community partnerships: proactive pursuit, consistency in relationships, and campus/community fusion. By using the instrument and applying the processes, higher education leaders can improve the transformative potential of campus-community partnerships.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Phillips, Jason T, "Transformative campus-community service -learning partnerships" (2007). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3270297.