The adoption and discontinuance of service-learning pedagogy
Estes, Michele Dawn
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The purposes of this study were to contribute to what is known about the innovation-decision process, to investigate faculty perceptions of scholarship in relation to teaching, and to explore the role of faculty as learners. The theoretical framework consisted of the diffusion of innovations theory, the concept of the scholarship of teaching and learning, and experiential learning theory. Research questions were derived from the following five stages of Rogers’ (2003) innovation-decision process: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation and confirmation. The overarching research question was, "How do early-career faculty come to make innovative pedagogy adoption decisions at a research-intensive university?" This case study focused on the innovation-decision processes of three, early-career faculty who implemented academic service-learning in a course in their respective disciplines at a research-intensive university. Participants were experts in disciplines broadly described as Design, Family Sciences, and Allied Health. Specific measures were taken to ensure quality of the study and included the following: revelation of personal biases and subjectivities, triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data, the dynamic incorporation of new data into interview guides, and ethical considerations such as the use of pseudonyms for participant confidentiality. Data were collected using document analysis, monthly group observations, focused life history interviews, ongoing and online reflections during implementation, student surveys, and interviews involving reflection on the meaning of service-learning. Significant findings that emerged from the data included the following: 1) at the research site, the scholarship of teaching and learning had not yet been fully realized; 2) discrepancies in scholarship created a sense of competing values for early-career faculty participants; 3) the participant innovation-decision process was consistently non-linear and its stages less distinct than expected; and 4) experiential learning played a key role in participant persistence through the stages of the innovation-decision process. Recommendations for institutional practice and further innovation-decision research were made.