A Case Study for Service-Learning: What Students Learn When Given the Opportunity

By Robinson, J. Shane; Torres, Robert M. | NACTA Journal, December 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Case Study for Service-Learning: What Students Learn When Given the Opportunity


Robinson, J. Shane, Torres, Robert M., NACTA Journal


Abstract

Today's communities and organizations benefit from service-learning. Service-learning uniquely blends disciplinary knowledge with civic knowledge while making communities a better place to live. Students enrolled in a leadership course in a department of agriculture were given an out-of-class assignment consisting of a service-learning project. The goal of the service-learning project was to provide students with real experiences in leadership in which they were faced with identifying a community-oriented project, executing a plan, and completing the project. The assignment called for students to gain experience with course content (team leadership) by participating in a service-learning team project. Upon completing the service-learning project, students revealed five leadership themes, classified as the five Cs, must exist for team leadership to be effective. The five Cs were: 1) communication, 2) commitment, 3) consideration, 4) courage, and 5) competence.

Introduction and Theoretical Framework

A purpose of higher education is to prepare students to enter the workplace upon graduation (Cole and Thompson, 2002; Evers et al., 1998; Martin et al., 2000; McLaughlin, 1995; Peddle, 2000). However, several authorities (Askov and Gordon, 1999; Atkins, 1999; Evers et al. 1998; Kivinen and Silvennoinen, 2002; Morley, 2001) noted that today's students are not being prepared with the appropriate skills needed to face the challenges that linger outside the confined, structured environment of a college classroom. In fact, Evers et al. (1998) stated that "the skills most in demand are least in supply" (p. 16).

Peddle (2000) stated that college graduates need to possess more transferable skills and as such are not ready to enter the workplace. According to Schmidt (1999), graduates entering the workplace must be able to "solve complex multidisciplinary problems, work successfully in teams, exhibit effective oral and written communication skills, and practice good interpersonal skills" (p. 31). However, a review of the literature revealed that such transferable skills are lacking in today's college graduates (Candy and Crebert, 1991; Coplin, 2003; Dunne and Rawlins, 2000; Radhakrishna and Bruening, 1994; Robinson and Garton, 2006).

In an attempt to address the growing need for transferable skills, Sapp (2000) stated that institutions of higher education have begun shifting emphasis away from simply providing instruction to a teaching philosophy of producing authentic learning. One method for including authentic learning is through service-learning. Service-learning is a form of experiential learning, created through a spirit of civic responsibility, (Binard and Leavitt, 2000) and exists as a means to bring ownership to the learning process and enable students to experience the transferable skills most in need in the workplace.

Experiential Learning

In 1984, David A. Kolb developed a model of experiential learning consisting of: concrete experience, observation and reflection, forming abstract concepts, and testing in new situations. To better understand the theory behind experiential learning, Kolb (1984) stated that it was "the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience" (p. 41). Scales et al. (2006) added that experiential learning implies: concrete experiences help students grasp information when students can reflect on those experiences and experiment actively with the concepts they are learning. Experiential education can provide greater depth of information processing, and thus a greater potential impact on learning, than less active methods.

Service-learning provides educators a vehicle for integrating, experiential learning activities into the curriculum (Barkley 1999). Scales et al. (2006) stated that service-earning integrates concepts learned in class with real-world, authentic problems in society. Service-learning should be conducted in a community setting and should entail a reflection component (Barkley, 1999; Bringle and Hatcher, 1996; Karayan and Gathercoal, 2005).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Case Study for Service-Learning: What Students Learn When Given the Opportunity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?