Connecting art and community through service-learning

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12th annual IARSLCE conference "Connected Knowing"

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Art and Well Being, a programme elective offered by the Department of Visual Studies at Lingnan University, explores the impact of art and creativity on the well-being of individuals and communities. A Service-Learning Research Scheme (SLRS) was integrated into the course and a two-year research project was funded by a teaching grant in 2011 to examine the impact of service-learning on the students. The Office of Service-Learning (OSL) of Lingnan University has been running various SLRS to encourage academic staff to integrate service-learning into their credit-bearing courses. Once a course has adopted the scheme, service-learning will be integrated into the course as a kind of experiential learning component. The OSL staff will work closely with the academic staff during the course to review and evaluate the outcomes of the service-learning.

The fundamental theoretical basis of art and well-being is the intrinsic nature of art as a language written in images for communication and expression. Scholars from both the anthropology and philosophy of art find that art is innate in humans (Alland, 1977; Dissanayake, 1995; Langer, 1979). Likewise, neuroscientists have found some evidence that “empathic responses to works of art that is not purely introspective, intuitive, or metaphysical but that has a precise and definable material basis in the brain” (Freeberg & Gallese, 2007, p. 199).

The presentation will report findings of the SLRS outcomes in the year 2010/11 and illustrate how knowledge of art might help connect students’ learning to community through service-learning. The evaluation focused on qualitative measures, including students’ self-reflection from their three report presentations and reflective essays, feedback from the artists and organizations involved, and raw data of the pre and post-questionnaires designed by the Office of Service-Learning. Findings suggest that compared to non-SLRS students in tutorial discussions, SLRS students were more active in leading the discussions with actual examples of issues they encountered in running the creative workshops. This has shifted the in-class dynamics from teacher-initiative to student-initiative.



Recommended Citation

Law, S. S.-M. (2012, September). Connecting art and community through service-learning. Paper presented in 12th annual IARSLCE conference "Connected Knowing", Baltimore, US.

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