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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring International Baccalaureate students' experiences of community-based learning : an interpretive case study Diemert, Renee Michelle


The province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica has had high rates of child poverty and school dropouts among elementary and secondary students. As a result, many children and youth in Guanacaste have not attended school regularly and/or not completed their education. In response, a group of educators along with local community organizations, collaborated to address those educational concerns. Their efforts led to building a new school and implementing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program (DP) in Costa Rica. Graduation from an IB DP requires completion of a Creative, Action, Service (CAS) assignment that involves students developing community-based projects. This study examines the perspectives of IB DP Grade 11 and 12 students in Costa Rica regarding their experiences developing the required CAS project. The study’s research questions are: What shapes International Baccalaureate Diploma Program high school students’ selection of their community-based learning project? How do high school students develop connections to both the local and global communities through their experiences in community-based learning? What do students consider to be the benefits of their participation in community-based learning? Using an interpretive case study, data collected consisted of interviews with 16 participants during and following the completion of their community CAS project; students’ online journals, which showcased photos and write-ups of the students’ thoughts and reflections of their CAS experiences; and researcher observations and field notes. The four main findings about students’ perspectives of their CAS community-based project experience include identifying personal, family, and community influences of students’ project choice; building and maintaining community approaches for interconnectedness and intergenerational cooperation; strengthening cross-cultural appreciation; and developing important life skills and interpersonal skills. Contributions of this study include conceptualization of student-centered community-based learning, that includes various aspects such as student agency, decision-making, problem-solving, reflection, and student engagement with(in) the community.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International