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ERIC Number: EJ1146558
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0965-948X
International Community-Based Service Learning: Two Comparative Case Studies of Benefits and Tensions
Akhurst, Jacqueline
Psychology Teaching Review, v22 n2 p18-29 Win 2016
The drives to internationalise the UK curriculum and psychology students' desires to work in communities are brought together in this paper. International community-based learning (ICBL) links with many psychology students' motivations to make contributions to others; with the potential to enhance students' learning and cultural sensitivities. The recently-developed literature on international service learning highlights multiple benefits for students (and sometimes community hosts), as well as the potential tensions that need to be negotiated. With the intentions of creating global citizens interested in social justice, community-based engagement can sometimes reinforce preconceived notions. In addition, benefits to the host communities may only be short-term or questionable, with less research on community partners' perspectives than on those of the students. This paper describes work with UK psychology students who undertook CBL in four different international settings (2008--2015); illustrating the complexities of setting up, facilitating and supporting students' CBL. It will then focus on two African settings (South Africa and Tanzania), with data drawn from group discussions with students, post-experience reflections, observations by the accompanying tutor and feedback from community partners. The findings show the richness of students' learning through CBL in both settings, including deeper insight into applications of psychological theory, the skills they enhanced and the emotional impacts of the work. Students reported changed perspectives, including greater awareness of social issues that impacted on their attitudes. The findings are explored and compared, using tools from Activity Theory, to illustrate points of confluence and tensions in such initiatives, when students, community partners and academic staff members interact. The discussion will reflect on what might guide the integration and optimising of ICBL to benefit both students and community partners.
British Psychological Society, Division for Teachers & Researchers in Psychology. St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester, LE1 7DR, UK. Tel: +44-1162-529551; Fax: +44-1162-271314; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa; Tanzania; United Kingdom
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A