Students' experiences of community engagement in an educational psychology practicum
Author(s)Malekane, Wendy Mapule
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AbstractDissertation (MEd)--University of Pretoria, 2010.
The purpose of this study was to explore and describe students’ experiences of community engagement in an Educational Psychology practicum. The theoretical framework was Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory. The study consulted relevant literature relating to community engagement, the experiences of students of community engagement activities, such as service-learning; the asset-based approach, positive psychology and the learning strategies relevant to the community engagement practice, namely experiential and reflective learning. A qualitative research approach was applied, guided by an interpretivist epistemology. An instrumental case study design was employed and the Department of Educational Psychology of the University of Pretoria, which was involved in the community engagement practicum, was conveniently selected for this research study. I selected one focus group for a pilot study, and later selected a second focus group, consisting of 8 purposefully selected students of the MEd Educational Psychology degree, as my research participants. Focus group interviews, reflective journals and visual data served as data collection methods. And, to further enrich the data collection process, audio-visual methods and a personal reflective journal also served as methods of data documentation Four main themes emerged as the result of thematic analysis and interpretation. Firstly, during the focus group interview, the students conversed about how they gained insight into themselves as Educational Psychologists within South Africa, such as their experiences of encountering individuals from different socio-economic groups, cultures, race and language. Secondly, the students also experienced professional development as a result of their experiences from the Educational Psychology community engagement practicum. That included experiencing themselves as being more confident, able to adapt to new situations and deeper insight into their role as a professional. Thirdly, the students discussed experiences related to integration of theory and practice. Their ability to understand theories, such as the asset-based approach and positive psychology, was enhanced as a result of putting it into practice. Finally, the students had experiences relating to structuring a community engagement practicum. The students expressed the need to receive additional information on the orientation and preparation of the practicum, as at times they had felt unsure of what was expected of them. They experienced the time spent in the practicum as being limited and discussed their experiences of writing in a reflective journal and participating in reflective dialogue Based on the findings, community engagement in this Educational Psychology practicum can be regarded as being a valuable inclusion to the training programme of these students of Educational Psychology, as it gave them the opportunity to interact with diverse clients in a South African setting. As a result of experiential learning during the practicum, students acquired several skills that they would not have gained in a classroom setting, such as the ability to work with diversity, groups, different age groups and in different contexts. Copyright
Malekane, WM 2009, Students' experiences of community engagement in an educational psychology practicum, MEd dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://hdl.handle.net/2263/23639 >