Perspective Transformation via ServiceLearning in Family Life Education Methodology


Family Life Education Methodology is an upper-division course normally taken in the fall of one’s senior year on the Stark Campus of Kent State University. The goals of the course include introducing and internalizing Family Life Education (FLE) as a professional identity, exploring how FLE can benefit communities through preventative programming, and allowing students to learn firsthand the process for establishing preventative programming for a community partner through the use of a modified service-learning project.

Service-learning has been shown to be beneficial to student learning in a variety of research findings (Astin & Sax, 1998; Eyler, Giles, Stenson, & Gray, 2001; Prentice, 2011; Tobias, 2013). Additionally, service-learning is identified as a high-impact practice by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (Kuh, 2008). In this course, service-learning requires students to engage as professionals-in-training with a community partner, reflect on service-learning experiences throughout the course of

S. Tobias (*)

Human Development and Family Studies, Kent State University at Stark, North Canton, OH, 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_13

the class, and construct prevention-based programming based on current scientific research as a deliverable to the community partner at the end of the semester. The combination of these factors working in concert leads to deep learning via the service-learning component (Kuh, 2008). Embedded within a practitioner setting, this approach may foster a sense of perspective transformation from that of student to new professional

(Tobias, 2013).

Mezirow’s (1991) theory of adult learning centers on the concept of perspective transformation. Perspective transformation is situated in ten non-linear phases that a student may experience, though it is not necessary to experience all ten steps in order to successfully and completely transform one’s perspective. A list of the ten phases of perspective transformation is presented in Table 13.1. Mezirow’s theory argues learning is an ongoing process where students are asked to make meaning out of cognitively disorienting experiences they encounter. This disorientation is paired with new learning, facilitating a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the topic through the reorganization of held beliefs and perspectives. This process must be aided by opportunities for self-reflection throughout the duration of the learning experience. Bringle and Hatcher (1999b) note that reflection is necessary for student intellectual growth as well as aiding in synthesizing course material and research for application in a work environment.

Table 13.1 Mezirow’s Phases of Transformation

1. A disorienting dilemma.

2. Self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame.

3. A critical assessment of epistemic, sociocultural, or psychic assumptions.

4. Recognition that one’s discontent and the process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change.

5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions.

6. Planning of a course of action.

7. Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans.

8. Provisional trying of new roles.

9. Building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships.

10. A reintegration into one’s own life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective.

(Mezirow, 1991, p. 168)

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