A unique resource for students and professors alike, this book reveals the important practical, educational, and emotional benefits provided by college programs that allow students to help others through service work in inner-city classrooms, clinics, and other challenging environments. Filled with vivid first-person reflections by students, Experiencing Service-Learning emphasizes learning by doing, getting into the field, sharing what one sees with colleagues, and interpreting what one learns.
As the authors make clear, service-learning is not a spectator sport. It takes students “away from the routines and comfort zones of lecture, test, term paper, exam” and puts them into the world. Service-learning requires them to engage actively with cultures that may be unfamiliar to them and to be introspective about their successes and their mistakes. At the same time, it demands of their instructors “something other than Power-Point slides or an eloquently delivered lecture,” as no teacher can predict in advance the questions their students’ experiences will raise. In service-learning, students and teacher must act together as a team of motivators, problem solvers, and change agents.
While most of its personal vignettes come from service-learners who have worked as mentors in elementary schools, the book also includes a chapter in which coauthor Michele Gourley describes at length her experiences at a faith-based health clinic in Honduras. In offering such stories—along with a succinct introduction to basic concepts, an assessment of how service-learners can effect transformational change, and project examples—this text will not only prepare students for the adventures of service-learning but also aid professors and administrators tasked with developing service-learning courses and programs.
Robert F. Kronick is a professor of educational psychology and counseling at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville and the author of Full Service Community Schools.Robert B. Cunningham is a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville. His books include Agendas and Decisions: How State Government Executives and Middle Managers Make and Administer Policy, coauthored with Dorothy F. Olshfski. Michele Gourley is a physician and public health professional with a background in rural community health and state health policy.