Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Realising the motto of the College through service-learning: The case of Hong Kong (#124)

Barley Mak 1 , Tony M.H. Chan 1
  1. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

 Service-learning is by definition learning through the provision of service offered by education bodies to the community into producing benefits for both parties: while the community benefits from skills and knowledge from trained professionals, the service providers – students – rip the fruits from whole-person growth, new skills and capabilities, as well as moral and spiritual enhancements (e.g. Bringle & Hatcher, 1996; Flingers, 2013).  Acknowledging the College motto - “making one's virtues shine and renewing the people” – the United College of The Chinese University of Hong Kong offers service-learning programmes that allow graduates to provide support to the local community, Mainland China, and other overseas countries. United College believes that pure textbook knowledge is inadequate to equipping graduates with the essential skills to face real-world situations; thus these service learning experiences introduce harsh and unfamiliar settings that challenge graduates to completing their assigned tasks with the view to stimulating their critical thinking, problem solving, and other applicable skills in face of immense limitations, complexities and uncertain circumstances.  One of these service learning programmes was the 1-month trip to Thai-Burma border, where graduates had to construct a playground, provide health education, journalism training, or rule of law education for Burmese people and refugees (CUHK, 2015).  Whilst these valuable experiences provided graduates with an opportunity to become responsive and adaptable professionals in an unfamiliar setting, the graduates’ capabilities were assessed, evidenced and evaluated through written reflective reports.  Qualitative data were generated from a critical examination of these reflective reports written by nearly 100 students participating in various international service-learning programmes from 2012 to 2014. The major themes emerged were grouped under five categories, namely i) Personal value change / personal development; ii) Skills or academic knowledge acquired; iii) Intercultural diversity / being a global citizen / learning overseas culture; iv) Impact on life choices or career directions; v) Future plan on community service or commitment. Findings concluded that the learning outcomes from these service learning programmes have realized the motto of the College. (329 words) 

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)