Service learning research paper

Longer-term affective learning in the form of self-knowledge also was stimulated by both SA and the SL project. Connective learning also endured. Responses to openended questions further illustrate connective learning had persisted:. Meetings with business leaders produced least strong connections to others.

The action component of connective learning is reflected in either intent or actual community action Gray et al.

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  • Service-Learning.
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But this dimension is somewhat difficult to explore among SL students because many who select SL courses are socially responsible before enrolling Eyler et al. Among this group of students, five were active volunteers before the course began. Our follow up survey indicated nine of the ten were volunteers after the class, and some continued work with the Agros Foundation. Prior research links SL participation and subsequent careers in service organizations Astin et al.

Two former students work for service organizations, and two are in graduate school preparing for careers in international service. Combining activities typical for SL and SA classes added both short- and long-term learning value for students. Visits to micro enterprises such as home-based pottery production as well as to large organizations exposed business students to a broader array of business activities than is typical for SA business programs that usually visit large or multinational firms.

Further, representatives from governmental and civil society organizations often presented new perspectives on formal economic development for Nicaragua, and this helped students analyze and critique options. Social interactions, the service-learning project, and free-time activities provided opportunities to interact with and learn from people from many socioeconomic groups, serving growing needs for business leaders to examine and address social concerns such as social responsibility, justice, and community development Dumas, ; Godfrey, ; Kolenko et.

The follow-up survey confirmed that these forms of learning had proved valuable over the longer-term as well:. I learned something from each part of the trip and had experiences that would not have been possible if we had visited only one of these places. Results from this study suggest that content learning for SA and international SL classes occurs via exposure to representatives from all sectors: business, government, and civil society. Exposure to people in different walks of life also stimulated affective learning; the latter occurred in all settings, but frequently during free-time activities.

The latter finding poses a special challenge for shorter study abroad tours. Explicit studies of culture that help students go beyond superficial levels of cultural awareness also are recommended for both SL and SA courses Gmelch, ; Hanvey, Connective learning, represented by feelings of personal connection and intent or action to stay connected, resulted most from informal faceto- face interactions rather than formal presentations. In particular, SL activities stimulated most personal feelings of connections. Recommendations for SA practice include incorporating a service-learning component in study tours and other study abroad programs; this creates opportunities for cross- or within-discipline collaboration with faculty experienced in SL design.

Also, results argue for incorporating reflection activities in SA classes. Formal and informal reflection encourages students to interpret their own behavior with greater insight Parker, The results also suggest possibilities for SL international practice, including enhancing student exposure to representatives from varied sectors, incorporating explicit learning about culture, and providing free-time options for learning.


There are several study limitations. First, resource scarcity limited course enrollment, resulting in a small sample. Most study abroad tours observe caps such as these, and they doubtless contribute to limited empirical research on SA. However, the follow-up survey affirms that content, affective, and connective learning occurred and persisted.

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Thus, questions we might have asked in did not occur to us until Like most study abroad courses this one enrolled more women than men Ingraham, The small sample size made it difficult to explore possible gender effects. A third study limitation is associated with content analysis methodology.

Although this form of analysis provides a way to aggregate results, a cost may be too much reduction of what student comments show to have been rich learning experiences.

What concepts or outcomes can be addressed using service learning?

A fourth limitation is associated with using cultural frameworks to interpret behaviors. While class members were exposed to different cultural frameworks and encouraged to choose different dimensions from them to analyze their experiences, both a benefit and a liability of cultural frameworks is they can oversimplify complex phenomena.

At worst, students might use a cultural framework at a superficial level without learning how various dimensions of culture interact, or focus on a single cultural dimension to the exclusion of all others. Doing either could lead to undesirable forms of stereotyping. This study makes a timely contribution to the growing numbers of international SL courses Annette, ; Crabtree, ; Kiely, and short study tours sponsored by business and other disciplines in the form of Alternative Spring Breaks, Mission Treks, and the like.

These activities are credited with tripling U. The study also breaks new ground by examining learning outcomes from a course that combined typical SL and SA activities. It expands on an existing taxonomy by introducing the concept of connectivity as a learning outcome that reflects feelings of personal connection and intent or action to connect with others.

These findings affirm SL research findings, but they extend SA research which is silent on either dimension of connective learning. Finally, having demonstrated where synergies occur, this study argues that SA and SL need not travel along parallel tracks in any discipline. Given the small sample size, additional studies are needed to explore these results in other SA, SL and combined programs. Longitudinal research also is needed, particularly to study how learning moves between students and community members during a servicelearning project.

The role of culture is underexplored in both SA and SL research, creating opportunities for future research in both.

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Because few SL projects are cross-cultural by design, little is known about how cultural learning enhances international understanding Crabtree, Systematic studies of short and longer SA or SL tours abroad may help answer questions this study surfaced but could not explore.

For example, some researchers find that SL experiences spread over a longer period of time enhance learning Jordan, Others argue for immersion as a benefit from international SL Kiely, , This raises a question about duration of the study abroad opportunity that future research can answer. Additionally, while the body of research on longerterm study abroad options provides a basis for studying SA, much more research is needed to understand learning outcomes from SL international and from short study tours abroad.

The authors gratefully acknowledge Cynthia Hardy and David Thomas for their insights, and thank anonymous reviewers for their comments and encouragement. The authors particularly thank students in the course for their participation and inspiration. According to Hofstede, power distance is the extent to which society accepts or rejects that power is distributed unequally in institutions and organizations.

Uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which society prefers or avoids formal rules and absolute truths.

Service Learning

Hofstede further described a high masculinity culture as one that is foremost assertive, acquisitive, and values money and things, while a high femininity culture most emphasizes care for others and values the quality of life. Allen, D. From tour guide to teacher: Deepening cross-cultural competence through international experience-based education. Journal of Management Education, 21 2 , Annette, J.

Service learning in an international context. Archangeli, M. Study abroad and experiential learning in Salzburg, Austria. Foreign Language Annals, 32 1 , Astin, A. Executive summary: How service learning affects students. Boyle-Baise, M. The Educational Forum, 63, Community-based service learning for multicultural teacher education. Educational Foundations, Bringle, R. Implementing service learning in higher education. Journal of Higher Education, 67, Calderon, J.

Doing sociology: Connecting the classroom experience with a multiethnic school district. Teaching Sociology, 26, Carlson, J. Study abroad: The experience of American undergraduates. Westport, CT: Greeenwood Press.

Service Learning - Complete Overview

The effects of study abroad during college on attitudes toward other cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 12, Crabtree, R. Mutual empowerment in cross-cultural participatory development and service learning: Lessons in communication and social justice from projects in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Journal of Applied Communication Research, Dumas, C. Community-based service-learning: Does it have a role in management education?

International Journal of Value-Based Management, 15, Dunlap, M. Adjustment and developmental outcomes of students engaged in service learning. The Journal of Experiential Education, 21 3 , Eyler, J. Reflection: Linking service and learning- linking students and communities. Journal of Social Issues, 48 3 , The impact of service-learning on college students. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University. Fagan, H. Exploring the effects of study abroad on long-term life choices.


Giles, Jr. A service learning research agenda for the next five years. Howard Eds. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Gmelch, G. Crossing cultures: Student travel and personal development.