Can a Low-Complexity Community-Based Project Have Transformative Effects?

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Implementing community-based transformative learning as a strategy for moving BSW student learners beyond lecture-driven content toward engagement in macro practice activities can be a complex and resource-consuming proposition. Through the lens of Mezirow's phases of transformative learning, this qualitative study examined the reflective essays of 15 BSW student learners following their experiences in a brief, low complexity, community-based transformative learning (CBTL) macro project. Through participants' responses we identified transformative elements of their experiences within the context of the themes that emerged from the study. These included new understandings of the meaning of diversity; enhanced understanding of group processes; sense of professional agency within organizations; critical awareness of local macro systems and service users' experiences; reflections, connections, and new knowledge; and broadened professional and personal horizons. We discuss the transformative aspects of participants' experiences and argue for the use of low-complexity CBTL projects within a larger pedagogical approach in macro practice courses.


Published in Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work: 2016, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 127-149

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