Proposal Title

The Impact of Service Learning on Students: Lessons for Faculty

Co-Authors

Dr. Sharon Blatz, James Madison University

Track

Research Proposal / Learning Theories and Pedagogy

Proposal Abstract

A study was conducted in order to determine the impact of service learning on student outcomes in a foundational undergraduate course in Special Education. The study is atypical in that it includes a variety of students from diverse majors and ranks; the service learning placements are outside of student majors; and, it included multiple years of investigation. Findings reaffirm the specific strengths of using service learning as a pedagogical tool. The presenters and audience will engage in a discussion of the use of a student impact study in curriculum development and establishing accountability for learning outcomes.

Proposal Description

Service learning is a pedagogical tool used to engage students in community-based learning while learning the academic knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to a course of study. Rarely, however, is the direct impact of service learning initiatives on target students specified. Therefore, a study was conducted in order to determine the impact of service learning on student outcomes in an undergraduate foundational course in Special Education. The study is atypical in that it includes students from diverse majors and ranks; the service learning placements are outside of student majors; and, it included multiple years of investigation.

The question of how service learning enhanced students’ understanding, action, and beliefs regarding course content drove the research. A course assignment required more than 230 students in courses held across two years to use Rolfe’s model for reflective practice designed specifically for use along with service learning. Reflective thinking is paramount when using service learning pedagogy in coursework. Students captured their reflections regarding approximately 25 hours of service learning in diverse community-based placements. Reflection content was analyzed using a priori themes that reflect a conceptual framework for student impact that is generalizable across diverse undergraduate coursework.

Study findings are particularly interesting in that students were required to choose service learning placements outside of their majors to reduce the influence of contributing factors and focus specifically on the transfer of course content. The results reaffirm the use of service learning pedagogy in coursework to maximize student learning outcomes. An important question remains: How might the positive impact of service learning best serve students, faculty, and the institution? The researcher and audience will discuss student impact of service learning pedagogy and the implications for informing educational programming. Further, small groups will focus on discussing utilization of the findings and replication at their own institutions.

Session Format

Presentation Session

Location

Room 1

Publication Type and Release Option

Event

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Mar 30th, 10:00 AM Mar 30th, 10:45 AM

The Impact of Service Learning on Students: Lessons for Faculty

Room 1

A study was conducted in order to determine the impact of service learning on student outcomes in a foundational undergraduate course in Special Education. The study is atypical in that it includes a variety of students from diverse majors and ranks; the service learning placements are outside of student majors; and, it included multiple years of investigation. Findings reaffirm the specific strengths of using service learning as a pedagogical tool. The presenters and audience will engage in a discussion of the use of a student impact study in curriculum development and establishing accountability for learning outcomes.