From Trepidation to Transformation: Student Perceptions of Service Learning

By:
Dr. Colleen Garside,
Dr. Joseph J. Horvat
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Service-learning, a pedagogical practice that merges classroom study with community volunteer service, is becoming more widespread on campuses of higher education. The movement started in response to criticisms that college students were egocentric, disengaged from communities, and unprepared to participate as contributing citizens in their communities (Ehrlich, 1999; Hepburn, 1997; Isaacson, Dorries, & Brown, 2001). This paper examines student perceptions of their service learning experience in a general education communication course that utilizes service learning as a primary pedagogical strategy.

The study explores student perceptions of how service learning pedagogy influences affective and behavioral domains of learning. A thematic content analysis of 516 reflection assignments submitted during an academic year provides the methodological framework for this study. Results reveal that students experience trepidation prior to working in the community with their service learning groups. Yet, by the end of the experience, they find it to be transforming, transcending, and trying. The paper concludes with considerations and suggestions for service learning faculty in terms of maximizing the learning potential of service learning as a civic engagement pedagogy.


Keywords: Service Learning, Civic Engagement Pedagogy, Communication
Stream: Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: From Trepidation to Transformation


Dr. Colleen Garside

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Weber State University
Ogden, Utah, USA


Dr. Joseph J. Horvat

Professor, Department of Psychology, Weber State University
Ogden, Utah, USA

Joe Horvat is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.

Ref: H06P0480