One pedagogical strategy that often incorporates social justice learning opportunities is service learning. Service learning has become increasingly commonplace in colleges and universities in the United States. Research on the outcomes of service learning and nursing students have demonstrated a positive influence on critical thinking, professional development and personal satisfaction, along with a sense of accomplishment (Flinders, 2013). There is the perspective that service learning and community service are interchangeable terms. Both community service and service learning provide meaningful services. The primary beneficiary of community service is the recipients. Recipients and providers are both beneficiaries of service learning. It is important that students understand the difference between the types of service. Community service can be dependent on a student’s interest while service learning is tied to either a specific course or discipline of study. Service learning demonstrates benefits for students in terms of personal and social outcomes as well as career development (Bandy, J., 2016). Faculty who have shared service learning experiences with students may benefit in the classroom setting from having engaged students who can apply their experiences to the course curriculum.
Service learning can be incorporated through various approaches at the different levels across curriculums; from short term (health fairs and screening activities), to longer term service experiences (service learning trips). Each opportunity offers students the chance to participate in active learning, experiencing the role of change agent. The students become witnesses to the health care needs and challenges that exist for patients and families. Offering students the opportunity to participate in multiple service learning experiences moves the strategy from a static event to a “dynamic, continuous process which unfolds over time” (Koch et al, 2014).
Every pedagogical strategy presents logistical challenges for faculty at each phase; from planning to evaluation. A case study approach will be used to discuss and share with participants the: potential internal and external resources, faculty and student assumptions, process of student selection, considerations for the student guidelines and boundaries before, during and after experiences, as well as an overview of methods of evaluation.
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