Role of Education and Pedagogical Approach in Service Learning: Volume 46

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(13 chapters)


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Part I: Agents Of Change


Higher education goes beyond classroom teaching and emphasizes on community and democratic participation of students and teachers who are expected to practice inclusive education and support the needs of the community and a diverse group of stakeholders. In the 1990s a new form of experiential learning started evolving in higher education where students were given credits to become more empathetic and address the needs of humanity or their immediate community. Curriculum were improvised to include volunteering services, internships and integrating them to the existing teaching learning needs. However, a fine line does exist about how inclusive education should be and what dimensions of community services can be included in the curriculum. This book is a collection of case studies and interventions adopted by academics across the globe to explain and explore the concepts of social responsibility in education, social justice and civility. The current pandemic situation has made it increasingly difficult for students to explore gaps in society and work toward mitigating it. Academics have showcased that online learning doesn’t mean an end to service learning, but it can be enhanced, and students can continue to be agents of social change. The volume describes the concept of service learning as a model, as a pedagogical tool, a framework that can be inculcated in different areas higher education.


Service-learning as a pedagogical avenue to apply students’ knowledge and skills, relate such knowledge and skills to communal needs, and prompt students’ civic participation has been emphasized in higher education for decades. It has been highlighted as one of the major roles, if not the most major, of universities in modern times, transitioning such universities toward becoming more socially vibrant, responsible, and connected institutions rather than being isolated think tanks explicit to a specific audience. Nonetheless, service-learning might seem neither a very spontaneous learning process for some theoretical courses (e.g., language, civilization, communication, and math courses) nor a very practical approach to implement during unprecedented times of lockdown and physical distancing such as that of the COVID-19. This chapter presents and analyzes the case study of a Lebanese higher education institution, in emphasizing service-learning through the “Learning in the Workplace and Community” (LiWC) approach across various theoretical and practice-based courses prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This chapter asserts that prior to the pandemic, service-learning enabled universities to equip their students to become agents of social, economic, and technological change and development. On the other hand, the chapter argues that during and post-COVID-19, service-learning will empower universities to play a more critical and vital role in preparing their students to become agents of support, resilience, agility, and sustainable growth within a global era of social, economic, technological, and healthcare chaos and change. In other words, service-learning will equip students to become avant-garde of certainty in such an uncertain, complex world.


Today’s higher education paradigm places emphasis on the broader context of globalization, economics, the environment, and society. Divergent from traditional silo-based, discipline-specific models, this broad and complex challenge necessitates the continued investigation of innovative interdisciplinary approaches for higher education. The 360 Degree Model for Educating Socially Responsible Global Citizens developed by the authors (360 Global Ed model) addresses these current needs through a structured approach for developing students as global citizens through purposeful engagement (Breitkreuz & Songer, 2015; Songer & Breitkreuz, 2014).

The 360 Global Ed model includes a theoretical framework, educational environment, academic coursework, and evidence-based outcomes. At the core of the model is an international service learning (ISL) experience. The model’s ISL experience provides a collaborative, interdisciplinary classroom environment combined with an authentic international field experience (Songer & Breitkreuz, 2014).


Humanity faces many crises – climate change, food insecurity, persistent poverty – what Brown, Harris, and Russell (2010) call wicked problems. These problems implicate us all, with possible solutions transcending disciplinary, organizational, and national boundaries. Therefore educators need to nurture graduates able to engage as future practitioners – and citizens – in seeking solutions which recognize “the personal, the local and the strategic, as well as specialized contributions to knowledge” (Brown et al., 2010, p. 4).

A model of service-learning which draws on the principles of social pedagogy, cultural-based learning and co-production provides the foundations for a more reflexive pedagogy, supporting the “development of student attention, emotional balance, empathetic connection, compassion and altruistic behavior” (Zajonc, 2013, p. 83). This approach advocates that community organizations play a pivotal role in co-designing knowledge. Drawing on an applied research module at University of Wolverhampton this chapter will argue that by engaging community groups as co-producers of knowledge, learning can be extended beyond students to the wider community (Murphy & Joseph, 2019). Not only will this enhance the potential of service learning to benefit the community and the students, but it has the potential to produce graduates more sensitive to the needs of communities themselves.


The chapter deals with a service-learning course based in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University in South Africa. It provides a backdrop for the case study, describing the context in which the course is based and kind of intervention that it aims to make into this context. It then maps out the theoretical framework that informs the course, explaining how this is informed by the available spectrum of approaches to service-learning. It demonstrates how the course draws on the concept of a ‘communicative ecology’, to provide itself with a language in which to reflect on the social significance of communication. The chapter then reviews the first cycle of the course which took place in 2019, drawing on insights from participants (teachers, students and community partners). It deals, firstly, with the participants’ engagement with the concept of service-learning. Secondly, it describes their experience of service-learning as a communicative process. Finally, it describes their evaluation of this process as an intervention into the local communicative ecology. It is demonstrated that service-learning enables the school to respond strategically to the need for innovative communicative practices both in their immediate environment and within the broader South African context.

Part II: The Concept & Practice


A service learning (SL) course is carried out at higher education institutions in cooperation with community partners to facilitate the development of students’ civic engagement. It consists of several phases, including the identification of a social need; the development and implementation of a concept to meet that need; and, above all, the reflection of this experience. In practice, however, the concept takes different forms with diverging goals. In this chapter, we map out the framework conditions and institutional contexts in which SL courses are based at the University for Continuing Education Krems (Austria) and the Babes-Bolyai University (Romania). We focus on the extent to which SL has become integrated within the policy and practice of every university and illustrate how corresponding circumstances, such as specific characteristics of the faculty and the student population, lead to different variations. In some cases, that context does not support the articulation of a shared understanding around the purpose and practice of SL. We therefore draw on critical reflections collected through interviews with module leaders to describe courses with SL components from both institutions. Ultimately, more needs to be done within each institution to put in place the necessary resources and support systems for the articulation of shared understandings. Some of these challenges must be understood in a broader institutional context in which the courses are located, which is why we include general and specific recommendations to create favorable conditions for the institutionalization of SL in the last part of the paper.


It is commonly recognized in the UK Higher Education (HE) sector that the United States has dominated the practice of applying and articulating service-learning as a pedagogical approach for several decades (see Bringle & Hatcher, 1996; Butin, 2003; Eyler & Giles, 1999; Furco & Billig, 2002; Morton & Troppe, 1996). The use of service-learning as a pedagogical approach is an emerging field in the UK, responding to strategic agendas such as national assessment of academic impact and the civic role of universities.


Service-learning implementation in higher education classes provides positive value to the undergraduate students as well as to the community organization being served. Opportunities for personal and professional growth allow students to develop their cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills (Barnes, 2016; Myers, 2020). In addition, the curriculum and content connections to real-world situations encourage a deeper understanding of concepts and an application of meaningful critical thinking and problem-solving scenarios. Including the reflection component as part of the service-learning project enriches the experience and authenticates learning connecting theory to practice. The organization benefits with creative and innovative ideas from the volunteers as resources are shared and the student cultivates relationships in a culturally responsive manner (Schneider, 2018; Schvaneveldt & Spencer, 2016). Guidelines for the effective implementation of the service-learning project ensure a successful experience for all parties involved (Lee, Park, & Chun, 2018). The mutual beneficial relationship is healthy for all who are involved. Service-learning is an opportunity to further develop the student in areas of personal growth and teacher efficacy as well as helping the organizations and schools they serve (Barnes, 2016; Moore et al., 2016). In conclusion, service-learning advances many components of an engaging course and fosters experiential learning for the undergraduate student.


Students enter college with the desire to make a positive impact on the world. They are also likely to enter higher education with literacy skills that need nurturing and support if students are to succeed in college and positively contribute to the world. Combining academic content and reading instruction in a service learning framework provides the focus for reading and action and uses students’ energy to solve problems. This chapter describes an educational approach that places reading and content learning in the service of the community. This approach includes explicit reading instruction, focused on introducing students to information literacy and reading strategies for common forms of texts aligned with the stages of service learning.

Name Index

Pages 163-168
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Subject Index

Pages 169-174
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Cover of Role of Education and Pedagogical Approach in Service Learning
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Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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