Service-learning is an integral part of the collegiate experience. In particular, it extends instruction beyond the “four walls” to provide an outlet for introspection, accomplishment, and personal growth. International study abroad experiences can prove especially transformative. As a facilitator, it is incumbent on instructors to develop metrics that can capture and convey these deliverables to administrative, faculty, and student stakeholders. Semiotics, with its interpretative focus on imagery, is especially well-suited for this purpose. Here we outline an experiment that evaluated student images submitted at the close of a 2011 study abroad trip to Costa Rica. Ten (10) students enrolled in the course each submitted five images from two different community-based service-learning projects. The images were compiled and coded based on semiotics analysis. Eight predefined service-learning themes were employed, including: (1) connecting service with learning, (2) reflection, (3) reciprocity, (4) critical thinking, (5) social responsibility, (6) experiential learning, (7) needs-based, and (8) other (unrelated). Themes were pulled from each image and analyzed for descriptive analysis using SPSS statistical software. Recurring themes are presented pictorially as word clouds to demonstrate their citation frequency and commonalities among locations.
|Keywords:||Costa Rica, Curriculum, Images, Service-Learning, Semiotics, Tropics, Word-cloud|
Assistant Professor, Agronomy Department, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Instructor, Office of Curriculum and Instruction University Colloquium Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA