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Education Service Learning
by
Stephen J. Meyer, Shelley H. Billig

Introduction

Service learning is variously considered an instructional approach, a philosophy, and a practice that engages people in the provision of community service as a way of acquiring knowledge, skills, or dispositions related to an academic content class or a program. No single definition of the practice is widely shared, though definitions usually share the central concepts of planning and provision of service to meet a genuine community need, an explicit link to academic or learning objectives, inclusion of reflection activities, and some degree of youth voice or participation in decision making around the social problem to be addressed. Typical types of service learning involve projects that address the environment, senior citizens, the homeless, literacy, safety, or any other topic associated with a community need. Service learning may take place during the kindergarten through twelfth grade school day, after school during clubs sponsored by the school or community members, such as the Lions Club or the YMCA, or as part of a community college or university course. Service learning may be an individual or group activity and is sometimes connected with a requirement to provide a certain number of hours of service. Service learning differs from community service in that service learning requires a connection with learning objectives whereas community service may be pure volunteerism with no specifically articulated learning goals.

General Overviews

Guidance on how to conduct service learning is plentiful. Because service learning can be used from preschool through graduate school, general overviews tend to address specific grade spans. The most fruitful one-stop resource for the field is the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, which offers information on a large range of topics related to service learning for all age groups and content areas. The site is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service and has fact sheets, bibliographies, sample lesson plans, a research hub, and news about events and conferences. For kindergarten through twelfth grade (K–12) educators and partners, there are three other widely used resources, the National Service-Learning Partnership, which also offers resources, guidance, and information to support advocacy for the field; the National Youth Leadership Council, which provides implementation advice, videos, and information about a network of schools engaged in service learning and a national conference devoted to service learning; and Youth Service America, which spotlights programs, implements public mobilization and recognition campaigns, and provides curricula and training materials. At the higher education level, Campus Compact offers information about service learning and other campus civic engagement activities, including resources for training, implementation, and advocacy. Campus Compact is an organization whose members are represented by college presidents who have committed their institutions to engaging in service learning and other forms of engaged scholarship. Overviews for the field are also found in multiple books and journal articles. Because these resources tend to be specific to either the K–12 or higher eduction sectors, they are presented separately.

K–12 General Overviews

For grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12), overviews generally address the prevalence of practice, implementation issues, outcomes, or ties to particular content areas. Kaye 2010 is the most popular in the field, with how-to advice, descriptions of activities and their links to various novels and content standards, and findings from the research. Practitioners also often refer to the videos and other resources in Bring Learning to Life to introduce educators and community members to the field. Berman 2006, Pritchard and Whitehead 2004, Stephens 1995, Terry and Bohnenberger 2007, Thomsen 2006, and Wade 1997 provide a range of information about the field focused on particular grade spans or content areas.

  • Berman, Sally. 2006. Service learning: A guide to planning, implementing, and assessing student projects. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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    Step-by-step instructions for planning and implementing service learning are provided in this book, which differs from others in that it presents a range of approaches, from simple to complex, for different grade levels and content areas.

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  • Kaye, Catherine Berger. 2010. The complete guide to service learning: Proven, practical ways to engage students in civic responsibility, academic curriculum, and social action. 2d ed. Minneapolis: Free Spirit.

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    This popular guide provides guidance and thematic chapters to help readers identify novels and reflection activities that can be linked to multiple service-learning projects. The book has an annotated bibliography, a CD with reproducible forms, and expert essays.

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  • National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. Bring Learning to Life.

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    These videos, brochures, posters, and guides introduce audiences to the concept of service learning and what it looks like in action.

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  • Pritchard, Fay Florence, and George I. Whitehead. 2004. Serve and learn: Implementing and evaluating service-learning in middle and high schools. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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    Chapters in this book contain a framework for understanding why service learning can facilitate students’ intellectual and emotional development and strengthen their civic skills. The book also highlights the ways service learning can be planned to meet the goals of several educational reform initiatives.

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  • Stephens, Lilian S. 1995. The complete guide to learning through community service: Grades K–9. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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    This book includes a history of service learning and provides information on planning service learning in each content area and information on reflection, interdisciplinary approaches, and multiculturalism as they relate to service learning.

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  • Terry, Alice Wickersham, and Jann Bohnenberger. 2007. Service-learning . . . by degrees: How adolescents can make a difference in the real world. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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    Geared toward high school teachers and administrators, this book provides multiple examples of service-learning implementation, focusing on tools, tips, and techniques for selecting and implementing developmentally appropriate projects for adolescents.

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  • Thomsen, Kate. 2006. Service learning in grades K–8: Experiential learning that builds character and motivation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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    This book reviews evidence on the benefits of participation in service learning, provides multiple examples of service-learning projects that can be implemented, and provides advice for teachers to implement and sustain service-learning practices.

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  • Wade, Rahima Carol. 1997. Community service-learning: A guide to including service in the public school curriculum. State University of New York Democracy and Education Series. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    This book is an early comprehensive guide that reviews the components of service learning and provides issue analysis from multiple authors on partnerships, the role of the service-learning coordinator, professional development, teacher education, and challenges related to implementation.

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K–12 Research Overviews

Printed in Phi Delta Kappan about ten years apart, Conrad and Hedin 1991, Billig 2000, and Furco and Root 2010 provide summaries of research and were widely disseminated and used to make the case for service learning in schools. Pritchard 2002 and Pritzker and McBride 2006 provide deeper critical analysis of some of the issues associated with the practice of service learning.

  • Billig, Shelley H. 2000. Research on K–12 school-based service-learning: The evidence builds. Phi Delta Kappan 81.9: 658–664.

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    This article summarizes the impacts of service learning as demonstrated in research conducted through 2000. Academic, civic, social-emotional, and career-oriented impacts are documented. Available online for purchase.

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  • Conrad, Dan, and Diane Hedin. 1991. School-based community service: What we know from research and theory. Phi Delta Kappan 72.10:743–749.

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    This historical review provides an argument for the role of service in preserving democracy, stimulating learning and social development, and linking youth to the larger social context, and summarizes research providing evidence for each argument.

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  • Furco, Andrew, and Susan Root. 2010. Research demonstrates the value of service learning. Phi Delta Kappan 91.5:16–20.

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    This article reviews research that shows academic and civic impacts that derive from service-learning participation. Available online for purchase.

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  • Pritchard, Ivor. 2002. Community service and service learning in America: The state of the art. In Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Edited by Andrew Furco and Shelley H. Billig, 3–24. Advances in Service-Learning Research 1. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The author provides a thoughtful analysis of the prevalence, practice, and impact of service learning and community service in the United States during the 1990s.

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  • Pritzker, Suzanne, and Amanda Moore McBride. 2006. Service-learning and civic outcomes: From suggestive research to program models. In Advancing knowledge in service-learning: Research to transform the field. Edited by Karen McNight Casey, Georgia Davidson, Shelley H. Billig, and Nicole C. Springer, 17–43. Advances in Service-Learning Research 6. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The authors use a methodological quality rating scale to categorize existing published research studies and compare service-learning outcomes to outcomes from other approaches that promote civic engagement.

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Higher Education General Overviews

Overviews of service learning in higher education are less popular than those in grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12), because most higher education practitioners are connected to a particular domain of study, such as political science or nursing, and are more likely to seek information that directly relates to their own fields through peer-reviewed content journals. Stylus Publishing offers a series of books directed to service learning in particular content areas, such as architecture, sociology, English literature, and philosophy (see Journals and Other Serial Publications). Eyler and Giles 1999 is a seminal work that was highly influential in helping service-learning practitioners and researchers change the focus of their practice to balance service and learning. Kelshaw, et al. 2009; Kenny, et al. 2002; and Jacoby 1996 are useful for providing an initial introduction to service learning among higher education administrators and faculty, and Butin 2010 is helpful for those considering how to best address challenges related to developing and sustaining service-learning programs.

  • Butin, Dan W. 2010. Service-learning in theory and practice: The future of community engagement in higher education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230106154Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Positioned as a comprehensive rethinking of service learning in higher education, this volume discusses its limitations and possibilities, alternative approaches for institutionalization of practice, and the need to adapt to changing contexts.

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  • Eyler, Janet, and Dwight E. Giles. 1999. Where’s the learning in service-learning? Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    This seminal volume presents a historical and theoretical overview of service learning and discusses how the pedagogy supports various dimensions of learning. Studies of service learning in higher education are used as a basis for identifying best practices.

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  • Jacoby, Barbara, ed. 1996. Service-learning in higher education: Concepts and practices. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    Essays in this volume provide an introduction to service learning in higher education by presenting a theoretical framework, models for practice, and discussion of issues related to implementation and institutionalization.

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  • Kelshaw, Todd Spencer, Freyda Lazarus, and Judy Minier, eds. 2009. Partnerships for service-learning: Impacts on communities and students. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    A collection of case studies that highlights service-learning partnerships involving K–12 schools and higher education institutions. Models for partnership and implications for best practice are presented.

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  • Kenny, Maureen E., Lou Anna K. Simon, Karen Kiley-Brabeck, and Richard M. Lerner, eds. 2002. Learning to serve: Promoting civil society through service learning. Outreach Scholarship 7. Boston: Kluwer.

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    Chapters in this book provide information on the array of ways institutions of higher education can implement service learning as a key strategy for community engagement, with perspectives provided from different types of colleges, universities, and community partners.

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Journals and Other Serial Publications

Venues for scholarship related to service learning are varied and include web-based resources, books, peer-reviewed journals, and monographs. This section lists a collection of resources, including journals and other serial publications. This list is not intended to be comprehensive but is designed to capture primary venues for service-learning scholarship. A review of the websites referenced in General Overviews also provides an excellent means for maintaining current knowledge on the subject and for announcements and links to current publications, including those that do not appear in serial publications. The Growing to Greatness series of annual reports provides updated information about the grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12) service-learning field, including research findings, policy analysis, and profiles of service-learning activities and organizations. The Higher Education: Service Learning book series reviews theory, research, and pedagogical considerations for implementing service learning in several higher education disciplines. Another source for current information about service-learning research in both K–12 and higher education settings, the Advances in Service-Learning Research book series, covers a broad range of topics through presentation of research findings, essays, and discussions of methodological approaches for studying service learning. The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning is the primary venue for peer-reviewed journal articles focusing on service learning in higher education. Two other journals, the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement and the Journal for Civic Commitment, do not focus specifically on service learning but regularly feature articles on the topic.

Historical Context

Service learning as a school- or university-based practice has had a relatively uneven history of adoption, implementation, and institutionalization in the United States and abroad. Bringle, et al. 1999 and Hepburn 1997 provide discussions about the relationship of education and citizenship, showing service learning as a pathway to civic engagement for young people. Stanton, et al. 1999 discusses the roles of key concepts and individuals in furthering the field.

  • Bringle, Robert G., Richard Games, and Edward A. Malloy. 1999. Colleges and universities as citizens. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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    A critical examination of the notion that higher education institutions should act as “citizens” engaged in their communities. Authors provide historical analyses, case studies, and conceptual frameworks to examine the implications of this role for colleges and universities.

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  • Hepburn, Mary A. 1997. Service-learning in civic education: A concept with long, sturdy roots. In Special issue: Community service learning. Edited by Sandra J. LeSourd. Theory into Practice 36.3: 136–142.

    DOI: 10.1080/00405849709543759Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review of literature related to service learning and civic education. The author traces contemporary service-learning models to their early 20th-century roots. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Stanton, Timothy K., Dwight Giles, and Nadine I. Cruz. 1999. Service-learning: A movement’s pioneers reflect on its origins, practice, and future. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    A history of service learning presented through the stories of early service-learning leaders. Challenges and outcomes related to service learning are discussed along with recommendations for policy and practice.

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Theory

Scholarship related to service-learning theory includes (1) exposition and analysis of theories on which the practice of service learning is based and (2) examinations of the practice of service learning to generate and test theories related to learning, social-emotional development, civic engagement, and other topics.

Theoretical Foundations

Service learning is anchored in the writings of John Dewey, reflecting his view of the importance of experiential education as the most powerful teaching and learning strategy. Articles in this section show the range of theories on which the practice of service learning is based and why it is considered a “value-added” concept with multiple possible outcomes for its participants. Giles and Eyler 1994 provides the classic discussion of Dewey and the roots of service learning in experiential education, while Butin 2003, Cone and Harris 1996, and Speck and Hoppe 2004 discuss a range of theories that explain why service learning can produce academic, civic, and social-emotional outcomes. Winings 2002 and Liu 1995 offer a narrower discussion of the connection between service-learning character development and other social-emotional outcomes.

Theory Generation and Testing

Many researchers in the field study service learning to either generate or test learning, social-emotional, or civic engagement theories. Ammon 2002 addresses how teachers make meaning of their experiences, whereas Evangelopoulos, et al. 2003 and Kraft and Wheeler 2003 explain the appeal of service learning as an academic engagement strategy. Bringle, et al. 2004 (cited under Approaches for Studying Service Learning) provides practical advice on ways to plan research to test theories, and Carver 1997 provides a conceptual framework that represents a common approach for linking service-learning theory and practice.

  • Ammon, Mary Sue. 2002. Probing and promoting teachers’ thinking about service-learning: Toward a theory of teacher development. In Service-learning through a multidisciplinary lens. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Andrew Furco, 33–54. Advances in Service-Learning Research 2. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    Using data from a study of California service-learning partnerships, the author describes teachers’ construction of the meaning of service learning, suggesting that service learning may be influenced by the specificity of teachers’ goals, the extent to which goals are discussed with students, roles and relationships of teachers and students during service learning, and the link between service and the academic content being learned.

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  • Bringle, Robert G. 2003. Enhancing theory-based research on service-learning. In Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Janet Eyler, 3–24. Advances in Service-Learning Research. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    This book chapter illustrates the ways grounding service-learning research in psychological theories from multiple cognate areas enhances the ability to explain results and inform practice.

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  • Carver, Rebecca Lynn. 1997. Theoretical underpinnings of service-learning. In Special issue: Community service learning. Edited by Sandra J. LeSourd. Theory into Practice 36.3: 143–149.

    DOI: 10.1080/00405849709543760Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues for a broader conceptualization of service-learning outcomes for students and presents a conceptual framework for organizing the planning, development, and evaluation of service learning and other experiential education programs. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Evangelopoulos, Nicholas, Anna Sidorova, and Laura Riolli. 2003. Can service-learning help students appreciate an unpopular course? A theoretical framework. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 9.2: 15–24.

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    Presents and tests a model through which service learning affects attitudes toward higher education courses, presenting evidence that service learning improves perceptions of course usefulness and intent to use course material.

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  • Kraft, Nancy, and Jim Wheeler. 2003. Service-learning and resilience in disaffected youth: A research study. In Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Janet Eyler, 213–240. Advances in Service-Learning Research. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The authors use Marzano’s meta-analysis of instructional research and four systems that govern learning to explain why youth from an alternative school responded so well to their service-learning experiences.

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Approaches for Studying Service Learning

Service learning is a relatively difficult topic to study, because the term covers such a large range of practice and intended outcomes. Though all service learning involves the provision of community service to meet a genuine need and to learn important content objectives, service learning can be of nearly any duration, address any subject matter, involve any number of participants, and have a large range of anticipated outcomes that can be academic, civic, social-emotional, or career-oriented in nature. The idiosyncratic nature of the field has led to a number of thoughtful analyses about how to study service learning in a way that represents depth and rigor. Billig and Waterman 2003 has multiple chapters that provide in-depth analysis of research issues, and Eyler 2000; Furco 2003; and Gelmon, et al. 2001 present analyses of some of the challenges associated with research in the field. Bailis and Melchior 2003; Bringle, et al. 2004; and Hecht 2003 discuss issues associated with quantitative research and provide sample measures that can be used. Driscoll, et al. 1996 discusses challenges associated with qualitative research. Furco 1999 presents a self-assessment rubric for assessing progress toward institutionalization in postsecondary service-learning programs.

  • Bailis, Lawrence N., and Alan Melchior. 2003. Practical issues in the conduct of large-scale, multisite research and evaluation. In Studying service-learning: Innovations in education research methodology. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Alan S. Waterman, 125–147. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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    This book chapter provides an in-depth discussion of the unique challenges associated with large-scale evaluation of service learning given the lack of commonly held practice parameters in the field. Summaries of the ways the challenges have been addressed in various studies are provided.

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  • Billig, Shelley H., and Alan S. Waterman, eds. 2003. Studying service-learning: Innovations in education research methodology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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    This volume features a collection of articles that address various issues surrounding the study of service learning. Chapters address theory, measurement, data interpretation, and various research designs.

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  • Bringle, Robert, Mindy Phillips, and Michael Hudson. 2004. The measure of service-learning: Research scales to assess student experiences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    DOI: 10.1037/10677-000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Designed to enhance the rigor of service-learning research and evaluation, this book provides multiple scales for measuring a variety of constructs related to service-learning outcomes.

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  • Driscoll, Amy, Barbara A. Holland, Sherril B. Gelmon, and Seanna Kerrigan. 1996. An assessment model for service-learning: Comprehensive case studies of impact on faculty, students, community, and institution. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 3.1: 66–71.

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    Presents a model for assessing service-learning courses using comprehensive case studies. Four primary constituencies (students, faculty, community, and institution) are considered, and outcome domains and measures are suggested for each.

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  • Eyler, Janet S. 2000. What do we most need to know about the impact of service-learning on student learning? In Special issue: Strategic directions for service-learning research. Edited by Jeffrey Howard, Sherril Gelmon, and Dwight Giles Jr. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, no. 1 (Fall): 11–17.

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    The author argues that research on the impact of service learning on college students must go beyond a focus on personal and social development to examine cognitive development and suggests that more rigorous methods and measures are needed.

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  • Furco, Andrew. 1999. Self-assessment rubric for the institutionalization of service-learning in higher education. Berkeley: Univ. of California.

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    Offers a conceptual framework for members of the higher education community to assess progress toward service-learning institutionalization focusing on five primary dimensions. A rubric for self-assessment based on the framework is also presented.

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  • Furco, Andrew. 2003. Issues of definition and program diversity in the study of service-learning. In Studying service-learning: Innovations in education research methodology. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Andrew S. Waterman, 11–31. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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    The author discusses the challenges associated with service-learning research that arise because there is no commonly accepted definition for the term, resulting in what are considered idiosyncratic, situational experiences with problematic generalizability. The author suggests using a grand design approach with a meta matrix.

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  • Gelmon, Sherril B., Barbara Holland, Amy Driscoll, Amy Spring, and Seanna Kerrigan. 2001. Assessing service-learning and civic engagement: Principles and techniques. Providence, RI: Campus Compact.

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    The authors provide a broad overview of issues related to assessment in higher education with a focus on the impact of service-learning and civic engagement programs. Guidelines for documenting impact and informing program improvement are presented.

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  • Hecht, Deborah. 2003. The missing link: Exploring the context of learning in service-learning. In Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Janet Eyler, 25–49. Advances in Service-Learning Research. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The author of this chapter describes the influence of service-learning context on outcomes and discusses the specificity of data needed for researchers to employ hierarchical linear modeling effectively.

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Implementation

Service-learning implementation varies substantially in terms of the populations of students involved, identification and provision of service activities, models and targets of service delivery, learning objectives, partnership arrangements, connections to academic curricula, duration of activities, and other key factors. The citations in this section provide information about the various ways service learning is implemented and guidance for effective practice. Billig and Weah 2008 provides research-based quality standards that are designed to improve practice in grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12) settings. Billig and Root 2006 and Abravanel 2003 help identify specific dimensions of quality practice focusing on youth voice, meeting a genuine community need, policy advocacy, and partnerships between schools and community agencies. Specific challenges that teachers face implementing service learning are discussed in Kapustka 2003. In the higher education sector, Western Regional Campus Compact Consortium 2009 offers a summary of how programs are implemented, perceived implementation barriers and facilitators, and student outcomes. Zlotkowski 2002 examines various models for implementation and their impact, and Battistoni 2002 provides guidance for incorporating service learning into college curricula. Hatcher, et al. 2004 and Jacoby 2003 discuss elements of effective service-learning implementation, including reflection and partnerships.

  • Abravanel, Susan A. 2003. Building community through service-learning: The role of the community partner. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

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    This issue paper provides information on how to form effective partnerships between community agencies and schools to promote effective service learning for youth.

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  • Battistoni, Robert M. 2002. Civic engagement across the curriculum: A resource book for service-learning faculty in all disciplines. Providence, RI: Campus Compact.

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    A framework for incorporating service learning in curricula across a variety of disciplines to foster civic skills development.

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  • Billig, Shelley H., and Susan Root. 2006. Maximizing civic commitment through service-learning: Case studies of effective high school classrooms. In Advancing knowledge in service-learning: Research to transform the field. Edited by Karen McNight Casey, Georgia Davidson, Shelley H. Billig, and Nicole C. Springer, 45–63. Advances in Service-Learning Research 6. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    Case studies of two high school classrooms that implemented service learning with strong civic outcomes are presented and show the importance of youth voice, meeting a genuine community need, and allowing students to advocate for the policy of their choice.

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  • Hatcher, Julie A., Robert G. Bringle, and Richard Muthiah. 2004. Designing effective reflection: What matters to service-learning? Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 11.1: 38–46.

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    Based on a survey of college students enrolled in service-learning courses, this article identifies elements of practice that were positively related to perceptions of course quality.

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  • Jacoby, Barbara. 2003. Building partnerships for service-learning. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    Theoretical and practical guidance for developing service-learning partnerships that are effective, sustainable, and mutually beneficial.

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  • Kapustka, Katherine M. 2003. Dilemmas of service-learning teachers. In Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Janet Eyler, 51–74. Advances in Service-Learning Research. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    This case study provides descriptions of teachers’ perceptions of the dilemmas they face as they attempt to implement service learning in an urban middle school. It addresses issues such as teacher control, traditional versus experiential education, and meeting the needs of those serving versus those being served.

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  • Billig, Shelley H. and Wokie Weah. 2008. K–12 service-learning standards for quality practice. In Growing to Greatness 2008. Edited by National Youth Leadership Council, 8–15. St. Paul, MN: National Youth Leadership Council.

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    The eight standards and associated indicators of quality were developed using a synthesis of the literature in service learning and educational reform and serve as a guide to increasing quality practice throughout the United States.

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  • Western Regional Campus Compact Consortium. 2009. Faculty engagement in service-learning and community-based research: WRCC survey data summary. Bellingham, WA: Western Regional Campus Compact Consortium.

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    Based on a survey of faculty engagement in campuses across seven western states, this report documents the ways faculty are involved in service learning, in teaching and reflection strategies, as facilitators and barriers to implementation, and in expected outcomes for faculty and students.

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  • Zlotkowski, Edward, ed. 2002. Service-learning and the first-year experience: Preparing students for personal success and civic responsibility. Columbia: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Univ. of South Carolina.

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    A collection of essays on the role of service learning in the education of first-year college students. Chapters focus on implementation models and their impacts.

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Outcomes

Outcomes associated with service learning have been examined in a variety of settings, including individual schools, school districts, colleges and universities, and state and national samples. Various methodological approaches, including quasi-experimental studies, simple pre- and post-regression studies, and case studies, have been employed. A wide range of outcomes has been examined in the areas of academics, civics, social-emotional learning, and career exploration. Citations related to service-learning outcomes are presented separately for the grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12) and higher education sectors.

K–12 Outcomes

Studies of grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12) service learning tend to focus on student outcomes and vary in their rigor and strength of conclusions about impact. Only a handful of national studies have been conducted to date, and these have been highly influential. Using data from a national study, Billig, et al. 2005 identifies positive relationships between service learning and civic engagement among high school students and factors associated with program success. A longitudinal national evaluation, Melchior 1998, finds several short-term impacts related to service learning and finds that these outcomes were not sustained over time. Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement 2003 presents a review of research and identifies service learning as one of a handful of promising practices for promoting civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Scales and Roehlkepartain 2005 and Melchior and Bailis 2002 also review studies of service learning, documenting a relationship between service learning and academic outcomes for students in low-income areas and conditions under which service learning affects civic outcomes. The remaining citations listed in this section represent studies that were conducted with large samples of students that tend to be concentrated in one or two states. Scales, et al. 2000 and Covitt 2002 present studies of middle school students, documenting relationships between service learning and social responsibility, academic success, and environmental stewardship. Furco 2002 and Meyer, et al. 2004 examine service-learning programs, documenting impact on civic and academic outcomes and identifying factors associated with success.

  • Billig, Shelley H., Sue Root, and Dan Jesse. 2005. The impact of participation in service-learning on high school students’ civic engagement. CIRCLE Working Paper 33. College Park: Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Univ. of Maryland.

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    The authors present results of a national quasi-experimental study of more than one thousand high school students, showing that service learning has a statistically significant effect on civic engagement, particularly when specific program design characteristics are present.

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  • Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. 2003. The civic mission of schools. New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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    More than fifty scholars were convened to summarize and synthesize research on the most promising practices for helping young people acquire civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Service learning is presented as a promising approach based on evidence of impact on civic and political skills, civic attitudes, and community participation.

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  • Covitt, Beth. 2002. Motivating environmentally responsible behavior through service-learning. In Service-learning through a multidisciplinary lens. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Andrew Furco, 177–197. Advances in Service-Learning Research 2. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    This study of middle school students in Maryland and Virginia shows that fulfillment of goals serves a moderating effect on the impact of service learning on students’ engagement in behaviors related to environmental stewardship.

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  • Furco, Andrew. 2002. Is service-learning really better than community service? A study of high school service program outcomes. In Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Edited by Andrew Furco and Shelley H. Billig, 23–50. Advances in Service-Learning Research 1. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    Using research conducted in California, the author makes the case that service learning has stronger academic and civic outcomes than community service for participating high school students.

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  • Melchior, Alan. 1998. National evaluation of Learn and Serve America school- and community-based programs: Final report. Washington, DC: Corporation for National and Community Service.

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    This summary report provides information on the quality and impact of participation in service-learning programs funded by Learn and Serve America and shows that while multiple short-term impacts accrued, they were not sustained over a long period of time.

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  • Melchior, Alan, and Lawrence Neil Bailis. 2002. Impact of service-learning on civic attitudes and behaviors of middle and high school youth: Findings from three evaluations. In Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Edited by Andrew Furco and Shelley H. Billig, 201–222. Advances in Service-Learning Research 1. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The authors examine results from three different studies to show the conditions under which service learning has an impact on students’ civic engagement, attitudes, and behaviors.

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  • Meyer, Stephen J., Shelley H. Billig, and Linda Hofschire. 2004. Impact of K–12 school-based service-learning on academic achievement and student engagement in Michigan. In New perspectives in service-learning: Research to advance the field. Edited by Marshall Welch and Shelley H. Billig, 61–85. Advances in Service-Learning Research 4. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    This chapter provides results from a quasi-experimental study of Michigan students who participated in service learning compared to their nonparticipating peers. Findings from a sample of nearly two thousand students showed multiple positive outcomes, including statistically significant differences in academic achievement outcomes.

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  • Scales, Peter, Dale Blyth, Thomas Berkas, and James Kielsmeier. 2000. The effects of service-learning on middle school students’ social responsibility and academic success. Journal of Early Adolescence 20.3: 332–358.

    DOI: 10.1177/0272431600020003004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a quasi-experimental study of over one thousand middle school students, researchers found that service learning was associated with higher self-efficacy, concern for others’ welfare, responsibility for academic achievement, pursuit of higher grades, and positive perceptions of opportunities for personal growth at school. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Scales, Peter C., and Eugene C. Roehlkepartain. 2005. Can service-learning help reduce the achievement gap? New research points toward the potential of service-learning for low-income students. In Growing to greatness 2005: The state of service-learning report. Edited by Larry Bilis, Shelley Billig, and Nelda Brown, 10–22. St. Paul, MN: National Youth Leadership Council.

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    The authors present an analysis of a national study of principals, a national dataset from studies conducted by the SEARCH Institute, and a study of middle and high school students in Colorado to show the ways service learning influences academic outcomes of students from low-income areas.

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Higher Education Outcomes

Outcomes associated with service learning in higher education have been examined across a variety of settings and for a range of program types. Readers interested in a comprehensive overview of findings related to higher education outcomes will find Eyler, et al. 2001, a synthesis of research conducted during the 1990s, informative. Astin, et al. 2000 presents data from a national study and concludes that service learning is a particularly effective approach for enhancing cognitive and affective development of undergraduates. Gray, et al. 1999 uses national data to document success of service-learning programs in serving communities and mixed evidence of impact on students and institutions. Steinke and Buresh 2002 presents a review of service-learning research related to cognitive outcomes for students and weighs the evidence based on its persuasiveness to faculty. For those interested in outcomes from the perspective of community partners, Sandy and Holland 2006 focuses on outcomes identified by community partners working with higher education institutions, including impact on partner organizations.

Institutionalization and Sustainability

As with any educational intervention, effective approaches for institutionalizing and sustaining practice are important for continued success. The citations in this section, listed separately for grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12) and higher education service learning, present models for institutionalizing and sustaining programming, research-based factors that promote institutionalization and sustainability, and practical guidance for program developers and practitioners.

K–12 Institutionalization and Sustainability

Sustaining and institutionalizing service-learning programs in kindergarten through twelfth grade (K–12) schools requires consideration of factors at the individual, program, school, and district levels and requires establishing a range of resources and supports. Billig 1998 presents a framework for promoting and institutionalizing quality service-learning practice in K–12 schools. Krebs 2008 tests this model by relating teacher beliefs about sustainability to elements in the model. Fredericks 2002, Billig 2002, and Pontbriand 2003 use qualitative research methods to examine service learning in multiple states to identify effective approaches for sustaining and institutionalizing practice.

  • Billig, Shelley H. 2002. Adoption, implementation, and sustainability of K–12 service-learning. In Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Edited by Andrew Furco and Shelley H. Billig, 245–267. Advances in Service-Learning Research 1. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    Providing results from qualitative research in New Hampshire, the author identifies the key elements associated with adopting service learning as a practice, implementing service learning with quality, and sustaining practice over time.

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  • Billig, Shelley H., ed. 1998. Building support for service-learning. Denver, CO: RMC Research.

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    This book features chapters on leadership, funding, establishing professional cultures, implementing professional development, and policy supports that provide information on improving practice and institutionalizing service learning in K–12 schools.

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  • Fredericks, Linda. 2002. Learning that lasts: How service-learning can become an integral part of schools, states, and communities. Edited by Elizabeth Holman and Josie Canales. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

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    This resource analyzes and illuminates the approaches and activities used by practitioners in five states to sustain and institutionalize their service-learning practices.

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  • Krebs, Marjoli M. 2008. Sustainability of service-learning: What do K–12 teachers say? In Scholarship for sustaining service-learning and civic engagement. Edited by Melody Bowden, Shelley H. Billig, and Barbara A. Holland, 85–109. Advances in Service-Learning Research 8. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

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    The author tests Shelley H. Billig’s model for sustainability by showing the connections between teachers’ beliefs about sustainability and the elements in the model.

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  • Pontbriand, Bruce. 2003. The sustaining factors of service learning at a national leader school: A case study. In Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Janet Eyler, 103–121. Advances in Service-Learning Research 3. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The author uses multiple qualitative methods to uncover the reasons why service learning was sustained over nine years in a suburban high school.

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Higher Education Institutionalization and Sustainability

In the higher education context, institutionalization and sustainability of service-learning programs also requires consideration of several factors and stakeholders. Bringle and Hatcher 2000 presents a useful framework for understanding institutionalization of service learning in higher education and uses results from a study to identify factors associated with success. A set of critical leverage points for institutionalizing service learning in higher education is presented in Furco 2007 based on a review of literature and results from a longitudinal study. Case studies of service learning at community colleges are used in Jeandron and Robinson 2010 to highlight successful approaches for institutionalization. A key component related to successful institutionalization and sustainability of higher education service-learning programs is the adoption of the practice by individual faculty, and several resources exist for understanding this process. McKay and Rozee 2004 reviews literature and data from faculty interviews to identify characteristics of faculty who engage in service learning. Abes, et al. 2002; Mundy 2004; and Welch 2006 identify a range of factors that affect faculty engagement in service learning.

  • Abes, Elisa S., Golden Jackson, and Susan R. Jones. 2002. Factors that motivate and deter faculty use of service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 9.1: 5–7.

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    Results from a survey of higher education institutions are used to identify the factors that influence faculty use of service learning to suggest strategies for increasing adoption and sustainability of service-learning programs related to faculty recruitment, support, and incentives.

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  • Bringle, Robert G., and Julie A. Hatcher. 2000. Institutionalization of service-learning in higher education. Journal of Higher Education 71.3: 273–290.

    DOI: 10.2307/2649291Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a framework for understanding institutionalization of service learning in higher education and presents findings from a survey of service-learning faculty and staff. Findings suggest that factors associated with institutionalization include institutional planning and a campus infrastructure to support service learning. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Furco, Andrew. 2007. Institutionalising service-learning in higher education. In Higher education and civic engagement: International perspectives. Edited by Lorraine McIlrath and Iain Mac Labhrainn, 65–82. Corporate Social Responsibility Series. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Based on a review of literature and data from a longitudinal study, this chapter examines the critical leverage points for institutionalizing service learning in higher education.

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  • Jeandron, Carol, and Gail Robinson. 2010. Creating a climate for service-learning success. Washington, DC: American Association of Community Colleges.

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    Presents case studies of community colleges to highlight successful practice related to developing and institutionalizing service learning on a college campus.

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  • McKay, Valerie C., and Patricia D. Rozee. 2004. Characteristics of faculty who adopt community service learning pedagogy. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 10.2: 21–33.

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    The authors review literature on the diffusion and adoption of innovations to provide a basis for understanding the characteristics of faculty who engage in service learning. Results from structured interviews with faculty reveal shared beliefs and values about teaching, learning, and community and suggest approaches for fostering and sustaining participation.

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  • Mundy, Meaghan. 2004. Faculty engagement in service-learning: Individual and organizational factors at distinct institutional types. In New perspectives in service-learning: Research to advance the field. Edited by Marshall Welch and Shelley H. Billig, 169–193. Advances in Service-Learning Research 4. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    This study of university faculty examines faculty practice, beliefs, and perceptions of campus support related to service learning. Findings suggest that faculty awareness and positive perceptions of service learning are key determinants of participation.

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  • Welch, Marshall. 2006. Reflecting on why we choose to take the path of service-learning.

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    Citing literature related to service-learning institutionalization, the author argues that understanding reasons for individual faculty adoption is a primary component. He provides an overview of these reasons and suggests approaches for increasing faculty engagement in service learning.

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International Practice

Service learning assumes different names in various nations, with the most common alternative called “community engagement.” Many of the articles about service learning in countries outside the United States are written in languages other than English and have not been translated. In other nations service learning tends to be tied more directly to character development (e.g., in Australia, Germany, and Japan) or to civic responsibility (e.g., in Israel, South Africa, and Argentina). Annette 2003; Metz, et al. 2006; and Tapia, et al. 2006 describe service-learning practices in other countries, while Bringle, et al. 2011 and Yates and Youniss 1999 link the variations to theoretical frameworks and research studies.

  • Annette, John. 2003. Service-learning internationally: Developing a global civil society. In Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts. Edited by Shelley H. Billig and Janet Eyler, 241–249. Advances in Service-Learning Research 3. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    Using examples primarily from the United Kingdom, the author considers the international emergence of service learning and community engagement across the world and discusses specific considerations for research in comparative education.

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  • Bringle, Robert G., Julie A. Hatcher, and Steven Jones, eds. 2011. International service-learning: Conceptual frameworks and research. Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis Series on Service Learning Research 1. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

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    This collection features articles on international service learning and community engagement with an emphasis on global perspectives, practice and research frameworks, measurement of outcomes, and faculty development models.

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  • Metz, Edward, Brett Alessi, Susan Stroud, Dacil Acevedo Riquelme, and Gustavo Smith. 2006. Policy scan: An exploratory study of national youth service policy in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: Innovations in Civic Participation.

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    This monograph provides descriptions of federal policies governing participation of youth in community service and service learning in nineteen countries, showing the variations in form and configurations of policies. Facilitators and barriers that the policies foster are also discussed.

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  • Tapia, Maria Nieves, Alba Gonzalez, and Pablo Elicegui. 2006. Service-learning in Argentina schools: A description vision based on the projects presented to the “Presidential Service-Learning Award” (2000–2001). In Advancing knowledge in service-learning: Research to transform the field. Edited by Karen McNight Casey, Georgia Davidson, Shelley H. Billig, and Nicole C. Springer, 67–88. Advances in Service-Learning Research 6. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

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    The authors present an exploratory study of the dimensions and models of service learning implemented in Argentina in 2000–2001. They describe key characteristics, funding, and common curricular links.

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  • Yates, Miranda, and James Youniss. 1999. Roots of civic identity: International perspectives on community service and activism in youth. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    This book has a collection of essays that describe various international approaches to youth civic engagement and the relationship between the types of programming offered and youth civic identity.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/15/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756810-0038

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