Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Service Learning as Marketing Pedagogy: Practical, Theoretical and Institutional Perspectives

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Service Learning as Marketing Pedagogy: Practical, Theoretical and Institutional Perspectives

Article excerpt


The successful incorporation of service learning into business curriculum is not something new. However, when it comes to service learning, the field of marketing seems to lag behind other business disciplines, particularly management, as demonstrated by the number of books and academic publications on the topic. The purposes of this paper are to review the state of service learning in higher education and in the academic field of marketing, present a case study of service learning in a marketing course, and to address the practical, theoretical and institutional perspectives of service learning.

First, the state of service learning in higher education and, specifically, in the academic field of marketing, will be reviewed. Then, by providing a review of recent publications, service learning as a marketing pedagogy will be put into a broader perspective by discussing the practical, theoretical, and institutional perspectives. Then, a service learning project implemented in a Strategic Electronic Marketing class at the author's University (here after referred to as "the University") is described and put in the context of those perspectives. This paper will enhance marketing educators' practical skills in and implementing service learning projects, as well as deepen their understanding of service learning at the theoretical and institutional levels.


Service learning is a pedagogical technique combining academic learning with community service (Klink & Athaide, 2004). Specifically, service learning "is a pedagogical process where by students participate in course-relevant community service to enhance their learning experience all service-learning experiences involve an integration of course material with volunteer service and some form of reflection on or reporting of the outcomes" (Petkus, 2000, p. 64). It can provide a very valuable learning experience by taking classroom content and applying it in a real-life situation. Not only do students use their classroom-acquired knowledge and skills, they also help community members in the process.

Munter (2002) describes service learning as a "new" approach to higher education (versus the traditional teacher-centered lecture pedagogical style) where "service-learning courses provide opportunities for developing a sense of purpose and a collective solidarity with the communities in which our universities are embedded" (p. 154). Munter (2002) contends that students need new skills and modes of thinking because of our knowledge-based and multicultural society today, and that service-learning can provide that by offering a learner-centered approach, interaction and collaboration, responsiveness to local communities, by building a community of learners, and providing lifelong learning. Service-learning has central to its approach student empowerment and community empowerment.

A variety of benefits of service learning exist. Communication is built as students work with diverse groups of people, reports and reflection papers enhance professional writing skills, cohesion is taught as students work with other students and professionals to achieve common goals and networking skills are learned as students deal with and build relationships with the contacts they make during these projects (Tucker, McCarthy, Hoxmeier, & Lenk, 1998). Service learning activities also have the opportunity to improve interpersonal skills in the work setting and allow students to use analytical tools and concepts to solve a wide range of unstructured problems (Frueh, Hobbs, Kenderdine & Michaelsen 2000).

Service learning projects have some common characteristics. First, the project should consist of a learning experience tied to the course. For example, Strategic Electronic marketing students might design a web marketing plan for a non-profit agency. Second, service learning projects should serve a community non-profit agency or for-profit organization and reflection should connect the learning and service together (McCarthy & Tucker, 2002). …

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