Through an activity theory lens: Conceptualizing service learning as 'boundary work'
In order to better understand the ‘push and pull’ of service learning, we need to better understand better what happens in the transaction/boundary zone in the first instance. In order to do this, we need to develop conceptual tools to illuminate the complex practices that occur at this nexus. Drawing on situated learning, post Vygotskian theory and activity theory in particular, I develop a framework for service learning conceived as ‘boundary work’. This framework illuminates inherent contradictions in these trans-boundary practices, and the argument is therefore that unless we understand these practices better and in more nuanced ways, we are in no position to improve them and consequently our understandings of this form of educational practice remain unaltered. Finally, by raising a number of questions about boundary practices at the end of the paper, I provide some ways of taking this conceptualization project further.
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