Academic journal article
By Taggart, Amanda; Crisp, Gloria
Journal of College Reading and Learning , Vol. 42, No. 1
The purpose of this paper is to review and critique empirical work done, to date, specific to service learning experiences at the community college level. A review of the literature was conducted in order to examine the empirical work that has been developed regarding service learning, a form of experiential learning, at community colleges. The narrative defines service learning, describes types of service learning taking place on community college campuses, and synthesizes and critiques the service learning empirical work done to date. The review closes with specific recommendations for both researchers and practitioners regarding future research.
Keywords: service learning, experiential learning, community college, programs, student development
With the exception of the 2008 presidential election that saw the second-largest youth voter turnout in American history (Morgenstern, 2008), the American public has recently demonstrated a decline in civic and social participation. This decline has been shown to be particularly evident among college students (Hodge, Lewis, Kramer, & Hughes, 2001). As such, civic engagement has reemerged as a central goal of higher education (Jones & Abes, 2004), as evidenced by the growing number of college and university mission statements that emphasize the importance of developing good and moral citizens (Kezar, 2002). According to Kezar (2002), "Community service learning has burgeoned and captured the attention of educators, politicians, and students alike as a way to develop skills for democratic life" (p. 15). In turn, colleges and universities across the country have become increasingly engaged in efforts to provide students with opportunities to participate in some form of volunteer service (Astin, Sax, & Avalos, 1999; Hodge et al., 2001).
Community colleges are in an ideal position to promote civic engagement, as their mission emphasizes the role of the institution in serving the community (Hodge et al., 2001). The challenge, however, lies with finding ways to engage community college students in volunteer or civic related activities, as this unique group of students typically has fewer opportunities to engage with faculty and peers or participate in social and academic activities outside of the classroom (Bailey & Alfonso, 2005; Cohen & Brawer, 2003; McIntosh & Rouse, 2009). As such, the classroom experience must be strategically designed to promote meaningful learning experiences for community college students (Bailey & Alfonso, 2005; Barnett, 1996; Duffy, Franco, Hendricks, Henry, Baratain, & Penner, 2007; Franco, 2009; Robinson, 2004). One strategy often employed to reach this goal is service learning, a unique form of experiential education (Berson & Younkin, 1998).
Service learning can be defined as "a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities" (National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, 2009). Although the term service learning has been used to refer to a wide range of activities, including volunteer work and community service (Robinson, 2004; Robinson & Barnett, 1996) or internships and work-study positions (Lester & Robinson, 2007), service learning is typically structured as part of a credit-bearing course that requires students to participate in organized service to the community (e.g., Robinson & Barnett, 1996). More specifically, service learning programs commonly include a requirement of around 20 hours of community service in conjunction with an academic course (Berson & Younkin, 1998; Cram, 1998; Haines, 2002). Furthermore, some service learning courses typically mandate active and guided reflection as part of the volunteer service required in the course (Exley, 1996; Largent & Horinek, 2008). The use of service learning within the context of developing college students' moral development and social and academic involvement is supported by numerous higher education theories, including Astin's Theory of Student Development (1984), Tinto's Model of Student Integration (1975; 1993), and Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development (1984). …