Making meaning of service-learning: the power of direct service and reflection
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand student self described meaning of their individual participation in service-learning and to enhance current research on service-learning in higher education. The findings were derived from the analysis in-depth interviews with 11 participants, final reflection papers, participant surveys and course syllabi. Findings indicated that students made meaning of their service-learning through direct service or interactions with staff and clients at their service-learning sites, providing them with a new understanding and varying degrees of personal transformation in their thinking about service-learning, specific populations, and themselves. Participants expressed a new commitment and moreover, a collective responsibility to give back to the community, but not a strong enough desire and commitment to actively engages in subsequent service. The results from the study substantiated the importance of reflection in service-learning. Furthermore, participants made meaning of their service-learning through connecting two of the course topics to their service-learning, thus enhancing their understanding and application of these two pieces of course content. This study provides education professionals with insight into structuring quality service-learning courses.
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