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Engaging in Excellence through Academic Service-Learning: A Way to Teach and Learn Citizenship and Justice in Any College Course
Conference By Faculty, Center for the Study of Ethics (2004)
  • Susan R. Madsen, Utah Valley University
Academic service-learning is a relatively new pedagogy that is beginning to be used in colleges and universities courses across the country. It has been cited as a “means of responding to concerns about the loss of a sense of community and concurrent citizenship behaviors in the country” (Shafer, 1995). According to Dewey (1938), “The society is a number of people held together because they are working along common lines, in a common spirit, and with reference to common aims. The common needs and aims demand a growing interchange of thought and growing unity of sympathetic feeling. The radical reason that the present school cannot organize itself as a Natural social unit is because just this element of common and productive activity is absent. Upon the playground, in game and sport, social organization takes place spontaneously and inevitably. There is something to do, some activity to be carried on, requiring natural divisions of labor, selection of leaders and followers, mutual cooperation and emulation. In the schoolroom the motive and the cement of social organization are alike wanting. Upon the ethical side, the tragic weakness of the present school is that it endeavors to prepare future members of the social order in a medium in which the conditions of the social spirit are eminently wanting” (p. 11-12). Academic service-learning is now being considered an educational pedagogy that can assist students in gaining a sense of community, increasing positive citizenship activity and behaviors, enriching sympathetic feelings, becoming engaged in their education, and preparing to become life-long learners, and active community members. Informal lessons of citizenship and justice (regardless of the course topic) can be taught and learned by students, faculty, and community partners through participation and engagement in academic service-learning. Generally speaking, academic service-learning is a multi-dimensional pedagogy (a form of experiential learning) that is integrated within a credit-bearing course in the form of an organized, thoughtful, and meaningful project. Students are paired with agencies or organizations that have specific needs related to the content of a particular course. Students then perform the needed community service while, at the same time, utilizing course content and reflecting on their experiences for enhanced learning. This paper will discuss and this pedagogy and present the results of a qualitative research study that explored the perceptions, experiences, and reflections of students who participated in a service-learning project for a business management course in the spring semesters of 2003 and 2004. This paper will report the data focused primarily on their perceptions regarding citizenship, civic engagement, and justice. The paper will end with guidelines for students and instructors who are interested in teaching and learning through this pedagogy.
  • Service-Learning,
  • Higher Education,
  • Pedagogy,
  • Citizenship,
  • Civic Education
Publication Date
September, 2004
Citation Information
Susan R. Madsen. "Engaging in Excellence through Academic Service-Learning: A Way to Teach and Learn Citizenship and Justice in Any College Course" Conference By Faculty, Center for the Study of Ethics (2004)
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