"Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts"
(Einstein, as cited in Freeman & Jackson, 2007, p. 338).
An old adage asserts that people remember what they see; they understand what they do
Freeman and Jackson (2007) note in the book, UnCommon sense about learning. In addition, just like the sounds one hears and the words one speaks have consequences, the things one sees in life also birth responses. One primary component contributing to students feeling included in school relates to them feeling "seen." In the first of a three series report relating to service learning in a small school setting, "What would it look like if all students felt included?," Frodge (2004) reports that teachers discussed how they currently "see" students. Teachers typically "see" students who routinely "act out" and demonstrate behavioral issues or problems as well as students failing classes right away. "What about students who behave well or who are marginally successful? We [teachers planning service learning] wanted to develop ways to "see" all students and thereby create a better sense of school [and] community" (Frodge, ¶14). In service learning, participants are seen as they see and begin to better understand concerns and challenges in their community.
The literature reveals that in addition to academic and personal development benefits, participation in service-learning may strengthen students' interpersonal and social realms. "In the area of personal development, students report increases in self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership skills, personal decision-making skills…, career benefits, and special growth" (p. 137). Service-learning participation reportedly also contributes to helping students perceive school and their academic responsibilities in more positive ways; positioning students to begin to visualize themselves as a valuable resource in/for their communities. During the literature review investigating service-learning, the researcher utilizes a thematic organization. The themes include the following:
Service learning connections
Student evaluation methods
Impact on school and community
Service Learning Definition and History
Although a number of individuals and organizations have endeavored to define service learning and purport similar perceptions, nevertheless numerous variation exist. McPherson (2010) defines this model of learning in the article, "Service Learning," as "a method of teaching through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in their own communities" (¶ 1). Another source depicts service learning to constitute a teaching and learning tactic that assimilates meaningful community service and instruction with reflection to enhance the participant's learning experience, while teaching civic responsibility, and strengthening communities (National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, 2011, ¶ 1). In the book, "Service-learning and community engagement: Cognitive developmental long-term," Stelljes (2008) reports that the Corporation for National and Community Service has defined service-learning to comprise a method:
1. Under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully
organized service experiences that meet actual community needs and that are coordinated in collaboration with the school and community,
2. that is integrated into the student's academic curriculum or provides structured time for the student to think, talk. Or write about what the student did and saw during the [process]
3. that provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations in their own communities: and
4. that enhances what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community and helps to foster the development of a sense of caring for others. (Corporation for National and Community Service, as cited in Stelljes, 2008, p. 3)
Service-learning helps students perceive themselves not as problems, but as solutions and to problems. In the phenomenological study, "Service learning: What motivates K -- 12 teachers to initiate service-learning projects?," Krebs (2008) explains that service-learning comprises an educational tactic "that incorporates student preparation, service to the community, and reflection, with links to the academic curriculum . . .. In addition, service-learning pedagogy also contains four critical phases when implemented in the classroom: preparation, action, reflection, and demonstration/celebration" (p. 136). Involving students in service-learning activities enables an instructor to "see" a reflection of the positive effects that service-learning activities have had on the lives of their students.
Stern (2008) asserts that utilizing the service learning method positively impacts both the academic achievement of the students and as well as their personal development. The following portrays a synopsis of a brief historical timeline highlighting some of the significant dates in the development of service-learning.
1903 -- Cooperative Education Movement founded at the University of Cincinnati
Circa 1905 -- William James, John Dewey developing intellectual foundations to service-based learning
Circa 1915 -- Some Folk Schools in Appalachia become two- and four-year colleges with work, service, and learning connected
1933-1942 -- Through the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), created by Franklin D. Roosevelt, millions of young people serve terms of 6 to 18 months to help restore the nation's parks, revitalize the economy, and support their families and themselves
1944 -- The GI Bill links service and education . . .
1965 -- College work-study programs established
1970 -- The Youth Conservation Corps engages 38,000 people age 14 to 18 in summer environmental programs
1979 -- "Three Principles of Service-Learning" published in the Synergist
1995 -- Service-Learning network on the internet . . .
2001 -- First International Conference on Service-Learning Research held -- Wingspread conference on student civic engagement . . .. (Historical timeline, 2011)
Effective Service Learning Components
In the publication "Service learning: Three principles," Sigmon (1979) asserts that service learning simultaneously focuses on participants who serve as well as on those being served. Sigmon's three principles of service learning include the following:
1. Those being served control the services provided;
2. those being served become better able to serve and be served by their own actions;
3. those who serve also are learners and have significant control over what is expected to be learned. (Sigmon, 1979, Abstract)
Frodge (2004) reports the following reasons a number of teachers have related for their decision to be a part of service learning. Service learning:
Helps decrease the feeling of frustration being isolated that teachers experience at times, presents ways students can receive more personal attention, discerns common links between subjects,
proffers students a better sense of school identity, gives teachers additional opportunities to relate to their students, decreases fragmentation that exists in the school's curriculum enhances the relationship between parents and teachers compliments student learning (Frodge, 2004).
Student Engagement During the article, "Part Two: What would it look like if all students felt included?," Frodge (2005) reports that teachers engaging students in Service-Learning introduce the students to Kolb's Learning Cycle. In the book, Informal learning: A new model for making sense of experience, Davies (2008) explains that David A. Kolb, Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Weatheread School of Management, defines learning as "the process whereby and knowledge is created through the transformation of experience" (as cited in Davies, p. 11). Davies also points out that although children and adults both learn from experience, children do not typically have preconceptions which may or may not impede learning. Kolb developed a regularly implemented learning model which includes the four elements portrayed in the following figure.
Kolb's Learning Model Components (adapted from Kolb, as cited in Davies, p. 12).
During "Part three: What would it look like if all students felt included?, Frodge and Lynass (2005) report that the first year of implementation of service learning included changing the school's traditional 25-minute silent reading class into a student advisory time with students and teachers engaging in conferences regarding academic issues, goal setting strategies, and social issue consideration. To increase students' abilities to work together, the groups performed community-building activities. Participants met with students struggling with their assigned positions to help the individuals "realize" they were a member of a team with a unified purpose to help them succeed. Later, this service learning group completed an interdisciplinary study on homelessness which evolved to engaging students through service learning projects. In the report, "Service-learning in community-based organizations: A practical guide to starting and sustaining high-quality programs," Roehlkepartain (2009) asserts that when implemented well, Community-Based Service-Learning ventures proffer a number of positive outcomes not only for students, but for teachers and for the service beneficiaries, the sponsoring organizations, and the broader society as well. A sampling of these benefits include, however, may not be limited to:
Benefits for youth participants
Enhanced contact to the array of opportunities and supports youth need.
as youth gain learn they can positively impact real social challenges, their self-efficacy increases youth improve their ability to plan projects, solve problems, and work as part of a team improved civic engagement attitudes and behaviors as well as improved skills
Benefits for Schools
Increased youth engagement cultivated community connections enhanced learning levels
Benefits for communities, service recipients, and society
Real needs are met; priorities for individuals and communities addressed
Positive relationships with youth nurtured and sustained
Youth perceived as resources rather than problems
A new generation of caring, experienced citizens and volunteers emerge (Roehlkepartain, 2009, p. 10).