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Reflections on Interdisciplinary Teamwork in Service-Learning

Sharon Elizabeth Bowland, Vicki Hines-Martin, Jean Edward, Aqueelah S. Haleem


This article examines partnership experiences in a community-based research project that involved an interdisciplinary team composed of nursing and social work clinical faculty and graduate students. Using Bronfenbrenner’s social ecology theory, the project assessed individual and community levels of health and quality of life in a low-income housing community. Students were involved in research activities that required community collaboration and needs assessment. They also actively engaged community members in problem solving related to their health concerns. The effects of these experiences on student learning were examined using a student reflection technique. Service-learning activities led to mutual positive regard, increased cultural sensitivity, improved organizational and research skills, growth in ethical decision making, and valuing interdisciplinary teamwork. These findings are discussed in light of the literature on the social determinants of health. Reflection on work in an interdisciplinary team and the importance of mutuality in relationships with community members were determined to be important considerations in service-learning. Student learning in this setting has implications for graduate teaching and learning, and the conduct of research.


Keywords: service-learning, research, health disparities, community, reflection, graduate student


service-learning; research; health disparities; community-based research; reflection; graduate student

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Partnerships is sponsored by North Carolina Campus Compact, and hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. ISSN: 1944-1061
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