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Transformational Learning

Definition and Goals

Transformational service learning is a teaching technique that has the following elements: (a) students serve in their communities in ways that closely relate to course material and learn how it applies to work in these settings; (b) the volunteer work is meaningful and meets the needs of the community partner and the student; (c) students reflect on and apply what they have learned in the community through course assignments to further their personal and professional development; and (d) students have the opportunity to interact with people who have been underprivileged and learn how to make a difference individually or on a broader level through social or civic action. This unique and innovative model of service learning that we have developed at Roosevelt University presents opportunities for personal and social transformation, as students become engaged citizens who create change. See article: Service Learning as an Opportunity for Personal and Social Transformation [PDF]

The Mansfield Institute is committed to helping faculty incorporate transformational learning into their teaching.  We can help faculty find community partners for placements, assist in course design or re-design, and provide support and resources through our grant programs.

Resources for Finding Community Partners

Please consult with the staff of the Mansfield Institute for identifying sites in the community that would be appropriate partners for your course.  We are particularly committed to placements that further social justice by allowing students to interact with socially marginalized people or to work in settings that serve these groups.  Instructors can similarly use transformational learning to help students participate in advocacy or collective action to ameliorate societal inequalities, consistent with the university’s mission. 

There are easy-to-access databases of sites to help instructors find partners as well. The first one is Volunteermatch.org. This is an extensive listing of community agencies, grouped by theme and location. Each is actively seeking volunteers. This is perhaps the most frequently used database nation-wide for professors to find service learning placements.  Others that are similar include www.idealist.org, www.chicagocares.org, and www.allforgood.org.

There are also databases of sites for people seeking services.  These are arranged by location and service type, such as Community Resources Online. Professors can easily generate a list of sites that assist populations that connect with their course themes listed on the pull-down menus (e.g., illness, abuse, financial planning, citizenship preparation, crime prevention). Keep in mind that this site lists agencies rather than volunteer opportunities; however, a follow-up call may allow you to determine partnership potential.

Learning How to Implement Transformational Learning

There are many resources available for faculty members who want to use transformational learning and would like to learn more.  Here are resources providing:

Using Transformational Learning at Roosevelt University

For the latest information and resources, please see the Transformational Learning blog maintained by the Mansfield Institute.  We provide updates on:

We also offer helpful forms to download, including:

Finally, we have developed answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ sheet) by Roosevelt University faculty.

The use of transformational learning is dramatically expanding across the university, and now involves hundreds of students each semester.  A complete listing of classes can be found on the online schedule by scrolling and selecting “transformational service learn” in the Attributes box on the left-hand side of the screen.

Contact Information

Transformational learning anchors the university's social justice mission in the classroom, allows students to reach out into the community as part of their coursework, and helps students become engaged citizens who have the tools to promote social change.  To learn more, please contact:

Nancy Michaels
nmichaels@roosevelt.edu
Associate Director, Mansfield Institute of Social Justice and Transformation
Phone: 312-341-2150