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Home arrow Education arrow Field-Based Learning in Family Life Education: Facilitating High-Impact Experiences in Undergraduate Family Science Programs

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Faculty and Student Peers Interact over Time About Substantive Matters

Defining the “substantive matters” faculty and students are interacting about presents challenges in interpretation. Looking at definitions of substantive, one sees words such as actual, real-life, essential, with a solid firm, practical basis (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2012). Certainly as students and instructors work collaboratively on the program development project, discussions reflect these dimensions of substantive as they focus on real-life issues grounded in practical, evidence-based information and activities.

Throughout this course, discussion with peers is integral to student learning. In addition to CRIT discussions, a substantial portion of class time is dedicated to working with fellow team members on the project over the course of the entire semester. Initially, some teams attempt to divide up the project with each student doing their respective piece. They soon realize that this limits their learning about the program development process very significantly and will leave them at a disadvantage in future situations such as Field Placements or Dietetic Internship placements. The instructor and community liaison model highly collaborative practices in the classroom and provide strong encouragement to student teams to do the same. Some examples include consistently addressing the team as a whole, willingness to meet with teams as a whole outside of class time and ensuring the electronic communication about the project is directed to the team, not just an individual student. During class time, the instructor and community liaison support circulate through the class responding to questions on an ad hoc basis. Based on the depth of the questions, it is evident that students are highly engaged. When working through the structured in-class activities applying some of the more challenging material, such as developing a thorough needs assessment, using the theories of behavior change to develop an educational activity or connecting evaluation questions with the desired program outcomes, teams keep both the instructor(s) and community liaison support staff on their toes posing questions related to how the activity applies to their particular community partner organization, or the intended audience for their program.

 
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