Learning Through Engagement: A Praxis Approach to Teaching Family Life Education Methodology

Nathan R. Cottle, Jeremy Boden, and Grant Richards

Faculty at universities across the country are putting a pronounced emphasis on more active, hands-on types of learning in an effort to improve education. Although it has many different names (e.g., Engaged Learning, transformative learning, service learning, etc.), the key components of this type of learning are that it is an active, student-led, field-based learning by doing (e.g., Sweet & Michaelsen, 2012; Vazin & Reile, 2006).

This move to more effective types of learning is accomplished through the use of more high-impact practices (HIP; referred to by the associated number below throughout the paper) in the approach to teaching Family Life Education (FLE) methodology:

  • 1. Students spend considerable amounts of time on meaningful tasks.
  • 2. Faculty and student peers interact about substantive matters.
  • 3. Students experience diversity through contact with people who are different than themselves.

N.R. Cottle (*) • J. Boden

Family Studies, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT, USA G. Richards

Behavioral Sciences, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT, USA © The Author(s) 2017

T. Newman, A. Schmitt (eds.), Field-Based Learning in Family Life Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39874-7_9

  • 4. Students receive frequent performance feedback.
  • 5. Activities have applications to different settings on/off campus.
  • 6. Authentic connections are made with peers, faculty, community, and/or the university (Kuh, 2008).

Utah Valley University (UVU) embraced this approach to learning through the Engaged Learning effort, suggesting students could graduate with not only a diploma but a resume as well. Engaged Learning is the combination of traditional academic and hands-on education. UVU went as far as to create a Center for Engaged Learning which provides faculty and students with Grants for Engaged Learning opportunities, and the Carnegie Foundation classified UVU as a “community engaged” institution.

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