Developing and Implementing Service-Learning Programs

Developing and Implementing Service-Learning Programs

Developing and Implementing Service-Learning Programs

Developing and Implementing Service-Learning Programs

Synopsis

This issue examines service learning-the emerging form of higher education bringing together students, teachers, and community partners in ways that foster the student's responsible citizenship and promotes a lifelong involvement in civic and social issues. It also demonstrates how institutions can create effective service-learning programs that couple academic work in the classroom with students' service to an organization in the field. Authors explore successful service-learning programs in a variety of settings, from liberal arts colleges to research institutions, and offer clear, practical advice on such matters as finding community partners, reaching diverse populations, assessment concerns, and integrating service-learning and research. This issue shall serve as an invaluable resource for educators interested in this relatively new but challenging pedagogy.

Excerpt

To ask the question, Why service-learning? in a volume designed to provide professors with the nuts and bolts of implementing service-learning in their classes might appear a bit odd. After all, does service-learning need any rationale? Isn't it a bit of common sense that the study of academic subjects is linked in tangible ways to life outside the classroom? Isn't it transparently obvious that learning cannot be adequately defined by the mere amassing of knowledge—of facts, figures, and theories so readily available in higher education classrooms?

The answer to those supposedly rhetorical questions is not a resounding yes. in fact, service-learning needs a great deal of explanation. First, there is no one impulse behind service-learning initiatives, and professors should understand the reasoning behind the various impulses. Although this chapter is not designed to provide a detailed explanation of theoretical assumptions that support service-learning, nevertheless, professors, who are acutely aware of the theoretical underpinnings for practical endeavors, will be curious about the assumptions that support servicelearning. Second, professors, quite reasonably, will want to know to what extent service-learning initiatives have been successful. Indeed, studies can provide insight into service-learning approaches that have shown success in meeting particular service-learning goals and those that have shown potential pitfalls in meeting those goals. Third, professors certainly will want to know the answers to major objections regarding service-learning. It would be naive to assume that professors, chief proponents of critical thinking, would not be interested in reasoned responses to objections brought against service-learning or would make a decision to engage in service-learning without exploring answers to potential problems. My task . . .

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