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  • Benefits of Service-Learning

Academic Service-Learning

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  • Benefits of Service-Learning 


    The literature provides ample evidence of the academic benefits of SL as a pedagogical strategy in university settings. Studies have shown that, compared with students in non-SL courses:

    • Students enrolled in SL courses reported higher course satisfaction (Evangelopoulos, Sidorova, & Riolli, 2003)
    • Demonstrated higher academic performance and critical thinking skills (Eyler & Giles, 1999; Markus, Howard, & King, 1993; Mpofu, 2007; Strage, 2000)
    • Showed greater ability to apply what they learned in class to real-world situations (Eyler, Root, & Giles, 1998; Kendrick, 1996)
    • in a large lecture class, students who participated in SL earned better final grades than all students who had previously taken the class (Strage, 2000)
    • “Service-learning may not improve the ability to recall facts over traditional classroom methods, but it may increase the ability to use evidence to support claims or to identify and solve complex problems” (Ash et al., 2005, p. 49)

    Personal and Societal Benefits

    Participation in SL courses has been shown to increase students’ feelings of self-competence in their ability to problem solve, possibly because of greater faculty–student collaboration and closeness compared with traditional courses.

    • Students who participated in an service-learning course reported greater personal self-efficacy (Braxton, 1997)
    • Involvement in service-learning facilitated cultural understanding, reduced racial stereotypes (Astin & Sax, 1998)
    • Students who participated in service-learning resulted in an increased ability to empathize or take the perspectives of others (Eyler et al., 1997)
    • Volunteerism in college was correlated with volunteerism after college, and this effect was present 9 years after graduating (Astin, Sax. And Avalos, 1999)
    • Students who spent 6 or more hours per week volunteering as seniors in college were more likely to attend graduate school, donate money to their undergraduate alma mater, socialize with diverse individuals, help others, and participate in community-based volunteer programs.

    Other Benefits

    Cognitive Development

    • Improves student engagement with the subject matter
    • Encourages active rather than passive learning
    • Improves the learning process and products
    • Links theory with practice
    • Illustrates transferability of knowledge outside of classroom
    • Promotes retention of learning and understanding
    • Forces/promotes/facilitates critical analysis
    • Provides mechanisms for students to reflect on the learning process itself
    • Increases awareness of macro-societal issues and problems

    Career Development

    • Provides guidance for career choice
    • Provides experience for career choice
    • Provides greater confidence in career choice
    • Clarifies professional opportunities and challenges
    • Develops specific job skills
    • Exposes students to committed professionals, volunteers, and organizations

    Personal Growth

    • Enhances self-esteem and sense of personal efficacy by allowing students to "make a difference" through the specific set of knowledge and skills developed in coursework
    • Increases sense of civic responsibility
    • Improves interpersonal skills
    • Increases tolerance/support for diversity
    • Challenges students by taking them out of their "comfort zones"
    • Creates personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens, and reforming citizens

    Benefits for Faculty

    • Enriches and enlivens teaching
    • Changes faculty role from "expert on top" to "expert on tap"
    • Creates awareness of societal issues as they relate to academic areas of interest
    • Provides authentic assessment opportunities
    • Enables teaching to become more process oriented
    • Engages diverse learning styles
    • Identifies new areas for research and publication

    Benefits for Community

    • Enables community development and renewal
    • Provides substantial human resources to meet varied needs of community organizations
    • Broadens future volunteer pool
    • Creates spirit of civic responsibility among future community leaders
    • Infuses creativity and enthusiasm from college students
    • Creates links between campus and community organizations