Benefits for Students
The literature points to a number of positive academically oriented benefits for Academic Community Service Learning such as:
- Increased interest and strengthened focus on the students’ major[i]
- Improved academic performance[ii]
- Improved oral and written expression[iii]
In addition, Academic Community Service Learning promotes broader social benefits such as:
- Beneficial for developing engaged citizenship, fostering civic responsibility, and the importance of contributing to the broader public good[iv]
- Improved attitudes toward social responsibility[v]
- Respect and tolerance for diversity and connection to others[vi]
- Increased likelihood to continue working with the community[vii]
Finally, Lowenthal & Sosland, (2007) point out practical benefits in terms of student development:
- More defined career plans
- Improved likelihood of attending graduate school, and
- Professional networking opportunities
EE offers a number of benefits for course directors that can potentially enhance teaching/learning, research and service:
- Experiential education ensures that students have a deeper understanding of key course concepts
- Experiential education can be a means for integrating current issues in the course thereby creating more interest on the part of the student
- Experiential education engages students as active learners, fostering a higher degree of participation and relevant student contributions to class discussion
- Certain forms of experiential education foster the establishment of community contacts that may be useful for future research collaborations[viii]; and student projects may generate ideas for future research projects
- Experiential education provides an opportunity for connecting teaching, service and research through the teaching role[ix]
Community engagement requires the negotiation of mutually beneficial projects that meet the particular learning outcomes of the course while at the same time responding to specific needs as defined by the community partner. These principles of reciprocity and mutual accommodation are necessary for the long-term sustainability of the partnership[x]. From the perspective of the community partner the following benefits can result from these partnerships:
- Ability to complete projects they might otherwise have to postpone due to lack of time and limited resources
- Strengthening of relationships with the university, which can be leveraged to validate community knowledge and needs when applying for funding, when seeking support, and when reporting to different stakeholders
- Agencies may benefit from student curiosity, energy, initiative and motivation
- Source of volunteers, board members, and even potential hires (i.e., students who have worked with a partner are vetted and partially trained candidates)
- An opportunity for community partners to inform the curriculum (from the perspective of “what is happening on the ground”)
- Community partner staff develop coaching and mentoring skills as they supervise the student working in their organization
- As the students deepen their understanding of and engagement with community issues, the students can relay voices from the community to the classroom
- Deepens student experience and engagement with course work, and possibly increases student retention
- Improves the reputation of the University, as a result of community engagement, from both teaching or research collaborations
- Consolidates the civic role and responsibility of the institution
- Multiplies the opportunities to reconnect and maintain relationships with alumni through partnerships with their workplaces and enterprises
- Potentially garners increased funding/support from government, and donors. In the case of the latter, donors can be seen as benefiting not only the University, but also the community[xi]
[i] Lowenthal, D. J., & Sosland, J. K. (2007). Making the grade: How a semester in Washington may influence future academic performance. Journal of Political Science Education, 3(2), 143-160.
[ii] Strage, A. A. (2000). Service-learning: Enhancing student learning outcomes in a college-level lecture course. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 7, 5-13.;
Mpofu, E. (2007). Service-learning effects on the academic learning of rehabilitation services students. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 14(1), 46-52.
[iii] Feldman, A. M., Moss, T., Chin, D., Marie, M., Rai, C., & Graham, R. (2006). The impact of partnership-centered, community-based learning on first-year students' academic research papers. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 13(1), 16-29.Sawyer, P. (2009). The writing program and the call to service: A progress report from a land grant university. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 15(2), 68-76.
[iv] Ngai, S. S. (2006). Service-learning, personal development, and social commitment: A case study of university students in Hong Kong. Adolescence (San Diego): An International Quarterly Devoted to the Physiological, Psychological, Psychiatric, Sociological, and Educational Aspects of the Second Decade of Human Life, 41(161), 165.
[v] Perry, J.L., M.C. Katula. 2001. “Does Service Affect Citizenship?” Administration & Society, 33 (3), 330-365.
[vi] Knapp, J.L. & Stubblefield, P. (2000) Changing students' perceptions of aging: the impact of an intergenerational service learning course. Educational Gerontology, 26 (7): 611-621.
[vii] Ngai, S. S. (2006). Service-learning, personal development, and social commitment: A case study of university students in Hong Kong. Adolescence (San Diego): An International Quarterly Devoted to the Physiological, Psychological, Psychiatric, Sociological, and Educational Aspects of the Second Decade of Human Life, 41(161), 165.
[viii] Buys, N. and Bursnall, S. (2007). Establishing university-community partnerships: processes and benefits. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 29 (1), 73 – 86.
[ix] Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (2009). Innovative practices in service-learning and curricular engagement. New Directions for Higher Education, (147), 37-46.
Saltmarsh, J., Giles, D. E., Jr., Ward, E., & Buglione, S. M. (2009). Rewarding community-engaged scholarship. New Directions for Higher Education, (147), 25-35.
[x] Beere, C. (2009). Understanding and enhancing the opportunities of community-campus partnerships. New Directions for Higher Education, (147), 55-63.
Driscoll, A. (2009). Carnegie's new community engagement classification: Affirming higher education's role in community. New Directions for Higher Education, (147), 5-12.
Holland, B. A. (2009). Will it last? evidence of institutionalization at carnegie classified community engagement institutions. New Directions for Higher Education, (147), 85-98.
[xi] Weerts, D., & Hudson, E. (2009). Engagement and institutional advancement. New Directions for Higher Education, (147), 65-74.