Service-learning in interior design academic programmes : student experiences and perceptions.
This study explored the participants‟ perceptions of their service-learning experiences in the Department of Interior Design at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The point of departure of the study was a Community Higher Education Service Partnerships (CHESP) Pilot Project initiated by JET Education Services (JET). The study is placed in the context of Higher Education transformation, where "community engagement" is a national imperative. In higher education such engagement includes service-learning. The key focus of the study was on how the participants perceived their experiences in terms of their academic learning, personal growth and social responsibilities. Of interest, too, were the participants' ideas of how service-learning could be improved, if indeed retained, in the interior design programme. Data comprised of reflective reports which were completed by the participants shortly after the service experience and from semi-structured interviews conducted one year later. The qualitative research design involved my immersion in the setting, the collection and categorization of the data and a review of the findings in relation to the current literature. This research highlights the social purpose of Higher Education and the opportunity service-learning presents to nurture the three domains of learning, namely academic, personal and social. Recommendations for future service-learning within the programme are made.