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Research Articles

Vol. 24 No. 2

Grappling with Complexity: Faculty Perspectives on the Influence of Community Engaged Teaching on Student Learning

May 4, 2020


The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine college and university faculty members’ perspectives on if and in what ways does community engaged teaching influence their students’ learning. We ground our study in the tradition of interpretative study, as well as the conceptualization of learning put forth by Neumann (2005). Based on interviews with 14 faculty members (across a range of institutional type, rank, discipline, geographic location, and demographics) who have conducted community engaged teaching currently or within the past five years, participants’ narratives highlighted a meta-theme of their students learning to grapple with complexity. Grappling with complexity is comprised of three sub-themes of learning, including: recognizing the intricacies of applying theory to real-world problems, shifting from deficit to asset thinking, and confronting power structures in society. Implications for theory and practice are included.