Devising university-based programs for the wider educational community
Hudson, S & Hudson, P 2008, 'Devising university-based programs for the wider educational community', paper presented to the Paris International Conference on Education, Economy & Society, aris, France, 17-19 July.
University-community collaboration has become pivotal for the success of Australian institutions, particularly as an investment strategy for building social and educational capital. The extent of engagement in university-community programs is being investigated globally. What processes and programs may emanate when engaging in university-community collaboration? This qualitative two-year study analysed minutes of meetings, university documents (e.g., policies, blueprints), written correspondence between key stakeholders (i.e., 13 university staff, 14 preservice teachers, and 23 community participants), and first-hand observations of programs. Data were coded for commonalities. Findings indicated the development of seven university-community programs (i.e., Ed Start Program, Science in Schools, Health & Physical Education, Literacy in Schools, Middle Years, Indigenous Support, and the 5th Dimension) with involvement of 128 preservice teachers, 40 teachers, 14 principals, 14 local schools, and more than 1200 primary and secondary school students over the two-year period. The establishment of a Reference Group of Educators appeared largely responsible for facilitating the success of these programs with perceived community needs and specialised university staff instigating each program’s direction. However, initially enlisting university staff, forming cohesive committees, and establishing clear common goals presented challenges to be overcome.