Community based service-learning

partnerships of reciprocal exchange?

Laura Hammersley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


    Community based service-learning (CBSL) integrates experiential learning and academic goals with organised service activities designed to meet the objectives of community partners (Bringle & Hatcher, 1995). Although research remains inconclusive regarding the benefits of student outcomes, CBSL has been endowed with the potential to enhance (1) academic learning, (2) foster civic responsibility, (3) develop life skills and (4) transform student attitudes (Eyler, 2002). However, there is little research to support claims that benefits are mutual amongst host counterparts (Edwards et al., 2001; Ward & Wolf-Wendell, 2000). A lack of empirical research into community partner conceptualisations of best practice approaches, outcomes and impacts, not only reflects a uni-dimensional understanding of the mutuality of programs, but fails to challenge dominant power relations embedded in traditionally uneven partnerships. It remains problematic to engage with service-learning without considering underlying neo-colonialist ideologies that continue to permeate the ways community service, international development, and volunteering are defined and practiced. If CBSL builds upon reciprocity and collaborative partnerships, it follows that research practice should adopt similar principles. Drawing on development discourse and practice, this paper provides a critical review of the CBSL literature. First, this paper will demonstrate how closely intertwined CBSL is with contemporary development agendas; second, bring attention to the absence of partner perspectives and partner involvement within CBSL studies; and third, outline a CBSL research agenda.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationACEN 2012
    Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2012 Australian Collaborative Education Network National Conference : Collaborative Education : Investing in the Future
    EditorsMatthew Campbell
    Place of PublicationSprinvale, VIC
    PublisherAustralian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN)
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)9780980570625
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventAustralian Collaborative Education Network National Conference - Geelong, VIC
    Duration: 29 Oct 20122 Nov 2012


    ConferenceAustralian Collaborative Education Network National Conference
    CityGeelong, VIC


    • community based service-learning
    • reciprocity
    • mutual-benefit
    • community development
    • international service-learning
    • community-based research

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