Service Learning through Mission and Ministry

By Lopez, Clarissa; Tsai, Kaun Chen | International Journal of Education, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Service Learning through Mission and Ministry


Lopez, Clarissa, Tsai, Kaun Chen, International Journal of Education


Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if student's perceptions of service learning projects lead to an understanding the mission of the University of the Incarnate Word. It is through the service learning opportunity that a window opens to determine if students gain a prospective of service learning and the meaning of the mission of the institution. The research findings revealed moderate positive relationships among students' perceptions of learning service projects and the students' understanding of the mission of the institution. The implications and limitations of this study are discussed.

Keywords: service learning, experimental learning, reflective observation, university mission

Introduction

In an attempt to promote the mission through service learning, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio, Texas offers opportunities for students to become engaged in community projects. UIW is a Catholic university and the catholic mission of service, education, moral values, world concerns, and ecumenism could be integrated into student experience through the vehicle of service learning.

Service learning has long been a needed element within the walls of academia. Insights to experiential learning, critical reflection, and how small classes affect the student transformation are a much needed area for instructors of higher education. Service learning projects provide challenges, discomforts, confidence, and competency to the students who participate in these community service opportunities while adding to the understanding of the university and its mission of service (Deely, 2010).

The students of the College Environment course at the University of the Incarnate Word had an opportunity to conduct a service learning project within the week of Spring Break 2012 through the Mission and Ministry campaign. The objective of the project was to paint the homes of the elderly population who have no means to pay for the service. Through the opportunity of service learning, a window opened to explore if students gain a prospective of service learning and the meaning of the mission of the University of the Incarnate Word.

Purpose of the Study

England and Marcinkowski (2007) posited that service learning is designed to provide an educational opportunity for students to become involved in the community. However, there are only limited amounts of studies (e.g., Lee, 1999; Roberts, 2008) available on the effects between service learning studies and institution mission. A gap in the literature shows how the effects of service learning can be critically analyzed in creating positive awareness of the institution mission (Deely, 2010). As a result, the purpose of this study is to determine if students' perceptions of service learning projects lead to an understanding the mission of the University of the Incarnate Word.

Research Question

What is the relationship between the students' perceptions of learning service projects and the students' understanding of the mission of the institution? The researchers hypothesized that there is no relationship between students' perceptions of learning service projects and the students' understanding of the University of the Incarnate Word mission.

Significance

If a gap in service learning projects and understanding of the UIW mission can be established, the study could assist faculty in addressing possible curriculum change. This project fits into the University's mission of Solidarity in that we are our brothers and sisters keepers. The measurable objectives to be accomplished by this project are improvements to how the students and faculty of institution may be of service to the surrounding communities.

Literature Review

The Promising Ground of Service Learning

Service learning has multiple meanings depending on the literature being presented. A review of the literature describes service learning as a process, pedagogy, philosophy, and experience (Novak, 2010; Ottenritter, 2004; Redman & Clark, 2002). …

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