Bridging the Gap: A Case Study Investigating One Community-University Partnership and Program in an Urban Context
Ford, Haley Grimland
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Background: Historically, universities have held a civic obligation to the communities in which they exist as “infrastructures of responsibility.” A partnership was formed between the teacher education program at the University of Houston and a local community center in which student teachers volunteered in the after-school program. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the social constructions and experiences of the participants during this “Community-University Partnership Program.” All subjective experiences and participant narratives associated with this partnership were utilized to examine the accounts of this one urban “Community Engagement Project.” The inquiries were: What reasons emerged for creating, carrying out, and ultimately ending the “Community Engagement Project” and partnership as reported by the participants?; How were the experiences of the “Community Engagement Project” interpreted and conceptualized in reflections and interviews?; and, What motivations, beliefs, and actions were evident of the participants’ reported experiences of the “Community Engagement” project? Methods: This qualitative case study’s data collection and analysis employed Carspecken’s three stages of critical qualitative research. Three kinds of data were used for this study: the researcher’s field notes, student teacher reflections, administrator interviews. The 257 student teacher reflections and three administrators’ interviews were analyzed using reconstructive analysis and horizon analysis. Findings: This case study resulted in four emergent themes: Affective Responses, New Experiences and Learnings, Programmatic Responses and Reflections, and Perceptions and the Students and Community. Conclusion: This research recommends that future replications of community engagement partnerships should be accompanied by bias-reduction training for student teachers and administrators working within diverse populations, and comprehensive infrastructural provisions for the maintenance of the program.