•  
  •  
 

Abstract

This article is based on masters research1 into student and civic engagement using a case study of an innovative Community Based Module in a Fine Art degree course (McGarrigle, 2009). 2 (Flyvbjerg, 2006) notes that contrary to some common misunderstandings around case study research, it is possible to use individual case study to test theory particularly in relation to falsification. The research presented here is based on student’s repsonses to Coates’ (2007) quantitative study of student engagement and attempts to test his engagement typology which identifies the terms passive, intense, independent or collaborative to apply to students’ approaches to online and general campus learning. In a participatory action research framework, low agreement was found between students (n=13) and lecturers (n=3) in assigning these terms to student postings to online discussion fora. This presents a challenge to the validity of such a narrow typology, and discussions with this student group suggested the addition of ‘adaptive’ as a valid student approach to the varied demands of third level learning. Further evidence from the case study found greater student collaboration in discussion fora when linked to practical course activity. Qualitative analysis of discussion threads using conversation analysis provided evidence for collaboration in deeper knowledge construction when supported by lecturers’ contributions. Collaborative approaches to learning may support learning within a social constructivist paradigm, though acknowledgement must be made of the context of an individualistic society where competition may present real or imagined barriers to student collaboration. An argument is made for Pedagogies for Community Engagement to promote these ways of learning to in order to develop active and engaged citizens of the future.

Share

COinS