18. Using Applied Learning to Engage with Social Justice: Lessons Learned from an Online Graduate Course in Social Justice
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

318 18 Using Applied Learning to Engage with Social Justice: Lessons Learned from an Online Graduate Course in Social Justice James M. DeVita My philosophy of social justice includes (a) learning about the experiences and development of marginalized/targeted populations, (b) reflection about our own identities and privileges, and (c) a commitment to engage in work that attempts to improve the climate for those populations on campus and in society. This philosophy frames my teaching, particularly in Social Justice Topics in Education, a required course in the Higher Education Concentration of the Master’s Degree in Education at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington (UNCW). The primary required project in the course asks students to engage with both of these social justice components. The goal of this project is to ensure that students have personal experiences that connect and ground theory with practical applications of social justice work. The hybrid format of the course provided a unique opportunity to encourage students to develop projects that were uniquely tailored to their personal and professional interests as well as their physical location. The use of online reflections to frame small-group discussions helped create a sense of community among students that helped with honest, open conversations on difficult topics. Indeed, student reflections collected as part of the assessment process demonstrate several positive outcomes that support the transformative potential of applied learning in social justice education. Among those discussed below are (a) an appreciation for being challenged, (b) a desire to continue learning about social justice, and (c) enhanced outcomes from applied work with marginalized populations. This chapter is focused on lessons learned from the assessment of student learning and development in Using Applied Learning | 319 a graduate-level course on issues of diversity and social justice. In addition to describing the elements of the course and the ways in which applied learning was integrated into the course activities, this chapter includes a discussion of student outcomes and implications for instruction. EDL 558: Social Justice Topics in Education EDL 558: Social Justice Topics in Education is a master’s-level course in the Department of Educational Leadership that is focused on the examination of topics related to privilege, marginalization, and social justice work in education. Readings, discussions, and activities focus on theoretical foundations that frame social justice work and practical implications for multiple stakeholder groups. The applied learning activities that are the focus of this chapter were initially developed under the support of a pedagogy grant funded by Exploring Transformative Education through Applied Learning (ETEAL) at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW) (see http:// www.uncw.edu/ETEAL/). The pedagogy grant provided me with a doctoral student who assisted in the development of applied activity guidelines, critical reflections, and assessment tools that were first implemented in the course in summer 2013. EDL 558 is one of seven required core courses in UNCW’s higher education concentration of the master’s of education degree. However, the course is offered broadly, and graduate students from other UNCW degree programs and North Carolina universities have also completed the course. I have taught this course four times at UNCW: three times as an online course in summer session (five weeks) and once as a hybrid course during spring semester (fifteen weeks, five face-to-face meetings). Most students are current and aspiring administrators in higher education leadership and student affairs and represent a range of social identities (race/ethnicity, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, etc.). The course is also offered as an elective in the College Teaching Certificate offered by the Department of Educational Leadership at UNCW. Integration of Applied Learning Activities As previously stated, my philosophy of social justice includes (a) learning about the experiences and development of marginalized/targeted populations, (b) reflection about our own identities and privileges, and (c) a commitment to engage in work that attempts to improve the climate for those populations on campus and in society. The use of applied learning activities allows me to require students to engage with the identities they study while learning about them through scholarship and online resources. Simply put, I see the requirement of applied activities as the means by which students become personally connected to what they are studying. The applied activities also allow me to address each of the learning goals for the course described above by framing the course activities with best practices of applied learning (ETEAL) and social justice. 320 | DeVita ETEAL Framework Because this project received funding support...


pdf