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Title:Service learning and career development: A case study in library and information science
Author(s):Nazarova, Muzhgan
Director of Research:Smith, Linda C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Smith, Linda C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bruce, Bertram C.; Estabrook, Leigh S.; Bishop, Ann Peterson
Department / Program:Library and Information Science
Discipline:Library and Information Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Career impact
Introduction to Networked Information Systems
Career development
Library and Information Science Education
Service Learning - Graduate Education
Service learning - Career Impact
Service Learning - Library and Information Science Education
Community Informatics
Social informatics
Abstract:The study presented in this dissertation investigates different impacts of the service-learning experience in relation to careers and career development in a graduate professional field. This retrospective case study focuses on a specific Library and Information Science (LIS) course LIS 315/451 Introduction to Networked Information Systems (INIS) – a graduate-level course with a significant service-learning component taught at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) since 2000. Students work in teams to develop and install computer networks to meet the needs of various community-based organizations, in both the Champaign-Urbana and East St. Louis areas of Illinois. The participants of the study include 211 respondents out of 230 eligible students who were enrolled in the INIS course during 11 semesters between Fall 2000 and Spring 2006. They participated in a Web survey consisting of 20 questions (11 close-ended and 9 open-ended). While looking into the major student outcomes of the course including: increasing technological skills, changing the way the respondents think about LIS professions, enhancing the ability to work with community organizations and members, and enhancing skills in leadership, communication and teamwork, a major goal of this research is to investigate how all these factors along with the other impacts of service learning including personal, social and learning outcomes relate to the subsequent careers of the students. The major research questions of the study are: How does a service learning experience in the INIS course contribute to careers/career development of the students? Do they relate their experience in the course, what they learned in the course to their ultimate careers? Based on the results of the study the following skills, abilities and attitudes represent a complex of a variety of skills which contribute to career development of the graduates: technological skills - 94.32% (199), teamwork - 79.15 % (167), communication - 72.03% (152), working with community organizations and members - 61.6% (130), leadership skills- 52.1% (110) and thinking about the LIS Profession- 61.14% (129). The study also suggests that critical thinking and problem solving skills have had a great impact on the careers of many students. For many students the service component of the course gave it “a focus and urgency”. The major course project empowered them as professionals and gave them a chance to test the values and concepts of the LIS field in a real world environment. The course changed the vision of the profession for many students and provided them with different perspectives regarding the major issues and values of the profession. Graduates who completed the INIS course are employed in all types of libraries (academic, public, school, special) as well as other sectors. The course had a variety of impacts on the careers and career development of students as reported in their detailed responses to the open-ended questions of the survey. Some students changed their career choice decisions, some changed their careers, and others changed certain aspects within their careers. In most of the cases the skills gained as a direct impact of the course have been used by the graduates at their workplaces. In some instances graduates got the jobs because of the skills and abilities gained as a result of taking the course. This study is a major contribution to the study of service learning in a graduate professional field not only in terms of the focus on career impacts but also in terms of the scale. The significance of this study is also in its ability to provide a clear description of what the students actually experienced during service-learning programs. Through this study the students received the opportunity to talk about their experiences in retrospect. One of the strengths of the study is the opportunity to look at those retrospective results: dealing with different cohorts of students who had a common experience in the INIS course at different times, trying to find certain patterns. One of the accomplishments of the study is refining the model of service-learning impacts. Various models of service learning, including the model presented by Eyler at al. (2001), define career impact as a separate category. The results here show that career impact cannot be isolated from personal outcomes of service learning, such as personal efficacy, ability to work well with others, leadership and communication skills, or from social impacts such as commitment to service, or learning outcomes, such as ability to apply what has been learned in the real world, problem solving and critical thinking. These outcomes are all integral to career development.
Issue Date:2007
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Muzhgan Nazarova
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-11-05

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