In the Nazareth Vision Statement created in 1999, three general themes were articulated. They included: Off Campus Learning, Excellence in Teaching, and Respect for Diversity. Service Learning connects directly to each of these three themes. As such, it provides a way for the college to achieve its Vision Statement through its academic curriculum.
Pedagogy and Enhancement of Student Learning in Service-Learning:
In a 1999 summary of research into the effects of Service Learning, Janet Eyler and her colleagues found, among other results, that Service-Learning:
Has an impact on such academic outcomes as demonstrated complexity of understanding, problem analysis, critical thinking and cognitive development.
Has a positive impact on students' academic learning, particularly when integrated with course content.
Results in students building stronger relationships with faculty than students not engaged in Service-Learning.
Has a positive effect on reducing stereotypes and facilitating cultural and racial understanding.
Has a positive effect on sense of social responsibility and citizenship skills.
Has a positive effect on interpersonal development, the ability to work well with others, leadership and communication skills.
Reflections are a critical component of the service learning experience. It makes the difference between service-learning and volunteering or community service.
The primary objective of a reflection is to capture your thoughts and feelings about the service learning experience. It encourages you to utilize critical-thinking skills to prepare for and learn from your service experiences. In doing this, you are better able to recognize the manner in which this experience interacts with and has an impact on the course for which it is designed. In addition, the process of reflection encourages you to engage in a closer personal examination of your learning style, views of the world, assumptions, fears, and skills necessary to accomplish your service learning experience. As you reflect on your personal awareness, you also have the chance to project your areas of growth and to achieve course objectives for the remainder of the semester.
Sample rubric to assess a service-learning reflection paper: