Service Learning: A National Strategy for Youth Development

Prepared By

Susan M. Andersen
Professor of Psychology
New York University


September 1998

This position paper is one in a series issued by The Communitarian Network and the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies (ICPS). This position paper benefitted from the deliberations and comments of The Communitarian Network's and the Institute's Education Policy Task Force. Members of the Education Policy Task Force are:

Susan M. Andersen, Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, New York University
Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar, Religious Freedom Programs, First Amendment Center
Howard Kirschenbaum, Frontier Professor of School, Family and Community Relations, University of Rochester
Thomas Magnell, Professor of Philosophy, Drew University
Warren Nord, Director, Program in Humanities and Human Values, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Rosalie Pedalino Porter, Chairman of the Board, READ Institute
Charles Quigley, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education
Catherine Ross, Associate Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School
Amitai Etzioni, Founder and Director, The Communitarian Network
These position papers fall within the purview of ideas expressed in The Responsive Communitarian Platform. Position papers are disseminated and promoted by The Communitarian Network and the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies. Other Communitarian Network/ICPS Task Forces at work include the Family, Community Justice, and American Society Task Forces.


Table of Contents

I.Policy Recommendations

A. National, State, and Local Levels
B. School Level
II. Rationale

A. What is the Need and Why Service Learning?
The sense of connection and belonging.
Relationship-building and community-building.
Overcoming intergroup barriers.
B. What is Service Learning?
Basic definitions.
Service Learning involves regular opportunities for reflection.
Service Learning is integrated into an organized curriculum.
Some other distinctions.
C. Examples of Service Learning
Environmental projects.
Social service projects.
D. What Does Service Learning Accomplish?
Engaging youth with their communities.
Developing the ethic of service.
Enhancing civic attitudes.
Cultivating social connectedness.
Fostering acceptance of diversity.
Developing competence/self-esteem and protecting against risky behavior.
Improving/supporting academic achievement.
E. Voluntary or Required?
Voluntary Service Learning opportunities for students.
Mandating Service Learning for all students.
F. National Campaign to Promote Service Learning
"Formal" and "informal" Service Learning.
Seed funding.
Private-public partnerships and seed funding.
Guidelines for quality.
Guidelines for assessing effectiveness.
Guidelines for implementation.
G. Conclusion


I. Policy Recommendations

National, State, and Local Levels

·All young people should have available to them the opportunity to engage in community service as part of K-12 and higher education. That is, they should have an opportunity to participate in Service Learning. Whether coordinated by schools or by community-based organizations, Service Learning is community service integrated into an organized curriculum and accompanied by systematic reflection, and it should be promoted and offered within educational institutions. The Administration and Congress should pursue a agenda to make Service Learning a reality in schools nationwide on a voluntary basis. This agenda should reach across government agencies--with a focus on the Corporation for National Service and the Department of Education based on their Joint Declaration in 1995 to collaborate in increasing Service Learning as part of Goal 3 of Goals 2000 involving citizenship education. Other collaborative arrangements should also be facilitated: Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor all have a stake. A federal commitment to provide seed funding for private-public partnerships is needed with careful outreach to communities, schools, foundations, and the private sector.

· Service Learning needs to be advocated at the national level so as to build private -public partnerships in support of Service Learning--as a tool for building common bonds, building a "sense" of community, and healing inter-group tensions. Because Service Learning brings together young people from all backgrounds in pursuit of shared goals, it facilitates intergroup cooperation and reduces tensions. Backed by a nationwide campaign with a coherent national voice, Service Learning can be advocated as an integrative strategy for advancing multiple aims in youth development, civic education, and character education: civic engagement, the ethic of service, civic attitudes, a sense of social connection with others, acceptance of diversity, academic achievement, and perhaps even reductions in risky behavior.

· A national campaign should be undertaken to promote and distribute existing guidelines and best practices about Service Learning, to every school and school district in K-12 education and to every college and university, with voluntary participation of principals/deans and teachers/professors invited.

· Improvements should be made in the existing infrastructure for providing technical assistance and professional development to teachers, staff, and administrators. Funds are needed for school improvement at the National, State, and Local levels to support teacher training, professional development, and technical assistance, now available largely on a fee-for-service basis, leaving poor school districts without assistance.

· AmeriCorps programs designed to facilitate Service Learning should be cultivated, extending the small proportion of AmeriCorps members now doing service that promotes Service Learning. State and local agencies should be encouraged to appoint a specialist in Service Learning, as should each federal agency pursuing Service Learning initiatives.

· Relevant professional organizations, private foundations, community organizations, and federally funded centers for educational reform should be called on to include Service Learning in their agenda.

· Both basic and applied research are needed to examine how Service Learning influences youth development, character and civic education, and skill and academic learning. Both multi-site longitudinal studies with long-term follow-ups and short-term assessments are needed, as is basic research on what fosters prosocial values and behavior, and civic engagement.

· The capabilities and scope of the infrastructure providing information about< /U> Service Learning on request should be enhanced. The Service Learning Clearinghouse (1-800-808-SERV) should be expanded to give callers, the most up-to-date guidelin es and best-practices, in addition to abstracts and citations, and importantly, to provide curriculum examples, information about reflection, and specific articles detailing methods, legal matters, along with local referrals for training and technical assistance.


School Level

K-12 schools should be encouraged to:

· offer Service Learning as an after-school activity, given that this is a high-risk time of the day for young people, without restricting all Service Learning to after-school activities.

· experiment with block scheduling so as to permit more time for Service Learning activities within the school day. Although Service Learn ing can be done without such restructuring, longer blocks of time per class permit more extensive activities, and limiting it to after-school programs excludes students who must work after school or tend to family responsibilities.

Institutions of higher education should be encouraged to

· partner with K-12 schools to enable Service Learning undergraduates to serve in local schools, to he lp give K-12 students Service Learning opportunities.

· include training in Service Learning within their teacher educ ation programs (and encourage teacher licensure programs to include such requirements).

Each school, college, and university should be encouraged to:

· work in collaboration with its students, teachers and staff to assess the needs of the local community and its existing capacities, to ensure that any services offered address genuine community needs and that students collaborate with the community.

· do a self-assessment to determine what service activities are ongoing in the sch ool to build on these strengths by integrating the service into a curriculum with regular opportunities for reflection.

· identify a Service Learning coordinator who can help organize Service Learning activities within and outside the school.

· identify a professor or teacher in each grade or academic level (or field) already doing Service Learning or interested, as a faculty resource to be developed.

· partner with at least one community-based organization offering Service Learning in an "informal" (non-school-based) curriculum thoughtfully organized and including reflection. Such "informal" Serv ice Learning that can be part of students' ongoing education if educational institutions legitimize student participation academically.

· allocate time in the school day for teachers to prepare Service Learning activities , to meet with each other, and to collaborate with outside organizations< U>.


II. Rationale

Acts of service are the dues we pay for living in a democracy.

Marian Wright Edelman

A. What is the Need and Why Service Learning?

Inspiring active participation among youth in their communities can strengthen individual communities, and by extensio n, the American community. Broadening the web of caring beyond the self, special interests, and one's own in-group can enable a wider and deeper commitment to prosocial aims. This proposal argues that a concrete means of facilitating this, and to revitalize civil society, can be found in citizen service, and particularly, Service Learning, as a national strategy for youth development (see Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989). It is a strategy defined largely in terms of character and civic education. It involves working together with others on equal footing toward the shared aim of contributing to the common good and can help engender a sense of community among youth, a crucial factor in youth development.

The sense of connection and belonging. Recent evidence shows that youth are vulnerable to high -risk behaviors when they experience a lack of connectedness within their communities (Blum & Rinehart, 1997). Correspondingly, the broader lack of connectedness among adults in our society--across socioeconomic divides--is often considered perilous because civic disengagement may indicate a fraying in the fabric of civil society (Bellah et al., 1985; Elshtain, 1995; Etzioni, 1983, 1993; Rifkin, 1995, 1996, 1997; Putnam, 1995a, 1995b). Studies of civic engagement vary in measures from surveys about voluntary participation in the community to voting (Chen, 1992; Verba, Scholzman, & Brady, 1995), and differences of opinion exist on the levels of civic disengagement (e.g., Lemann, 1996; Stengel, 1996; Youniss et al., 1997). Still, there are "warning signs of exhaustion, cynicism, opportunism, and despair" in American society (Elshtain, 1995), and a lack of civic engagement does not augur well for any democracy (e.g., Barber, 1984).

Active participation is required for democratic societies to thrive, and this makes policies designed to facilitate civic engagement of national interest. Service Learning is such a strategy. A vibrant civil society exists when people participate in civic and public affairs, and can identify shared values about the common good, while celebrating diversity and individual freedom (e.g., Barber, 1992; Etzioni, 1993, 1997; Rifkin, 1995). This process is part of Service Learning and derives from its basis in experiential learning (e.g., Kendall & Associates, 1990). Active collaboration among students and teachers can be useful not only in education, but also in youth development, as suggested at least indirectly by the single, largest longitudinal research project on youth development to date (Blum & Rinehart, 1997; Resnick et al., 1997). The results clearly demonstrate that when adolescents experience a positive sense of connection--in their neighborhoods and schools, and of course in their families--they avoid risky health behaviors. When youth are disenfranchised and disengaged, they are more often involved in drug use and violence, have an earlier age of sexual debut, and experience more emotional distress (including suicidal ideation). Strong and positive social ties--not in gangs--constitute a powerful force for prevention (Connell, Aber, & Walker, 1993; Elliott, Wilson, Huizinga, Sampson, Elliott, & Rankin, 1996; Sampson, Raudenbush, Earls, 1997; National Research Council, 1993; Wilson, 1987, 1991), and the recent research on Service Learning described here shows that it promotes social connection and engagement.

Relationship-building and community-building. Positive relationships define the "social capita l" youth need to thrive, and two distinct, complementary elements of social capital or "relationship capital" appear to exist (Briggs, 1997). Some positive relationships provide support, caring, and warmth, supporting this very basic human need (e.g., Andersen, Reznik, & Chen, 1997; Baumeiester & Leary, 1995). Some relationships also help youth navigate the broader social world, with guidance, competence-building experiences, and networking skills for advancing, doing well in career preparation, and taking a step up.

The importance of "connectedness" suggested by recent evidence makes it clear that discovering ways to provide all youth, irrespective of family circumstance or income, the opportunity to work together with each other and with adults to build social capital is warranted. Positive relationships in communities make for greater collective efficacy (e.g., Sampson et al., 1997) and make communities work (Wilson, 1987, 1991). Youth benefit both from knowing "successful, upwardly mobile, mid-life adults" (Chalk & Phillips, 1996, p. 13), and from caring relationships with adults (Benard, 1995) and peers (McGuire & Weisz, 1982). Hands-on work with youth can make a difference in forming such relationships. By involving youth in collaboration and dialogue, so as to assess community needs and capacities, and decide jointly on actions that might solve identified problems, youth can take leadership and effect change. This is the basis of capacity-building in communities (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993; Henton, Melville, & Walesh, 1997) and in Service Learning (e.g., Stephens, 1995).

Increasingly, youth development efforts proceed in this way, emphasizing youth as "resources" so as to move beyond "deficit" to "capacity" models that enable youth to build on their strengths (Checkoway, 1994) and to become an engine for community renewal, in part by enhancing their civic engagement. If disengagement reflects not only lack of interest, but also lack of trust in others (Broder, 1997), in political/civic aspirations, and in leaders (Brehm & Rahn, 1997; Capella & Jamieson, 1997; Galston, 1996), then activities conducted within a capacity-building framework, such as Service Learning, can conceivably begin to address these matters.

Wherever one stands on issues of decline in civic participation, there is agreement that social capital among youth is imperative, and depends on the quality of relationships (e.g., Briggs, 1997; Chalk & Phillips, 1996; Wilson, 1987; 1991). Social capital can also be conceived in terms of emotional intelligence--the capacity to relate to others sensitively and competently (Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990; see also Cantor & Kilhstrom, 1987). As such, social capital is multidimensional, but clearly based on relationships (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993), an assumption that makes sense in communitarian terms (Etzioni, 1993, 1996; Sandel, 1996).

Overcoming intergroup barriers. Capacity-building among youth is of special value when intergr oup tensions--based on divisions such as race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gang membership, or other differences--because it can bring people together toward common goals. In social-psychological research on intergroup relations and social identity, it is well known that identifying with a particular in-group leads to stereotyping out-group members (e.g., Brewer, 1979; Mackie & Hamilton, 1993; Ruscher & Fiske, 1993). So, when people define themselves more globally--in a way that includes out-group members in their social identity--this broadened collective identity decreases their tendency to stereotype and increases their sense of social "justice" (Brewer, 1996; Gaertner, Dovidio, Anastasio, Bachman, & Rust, 1993; Marcus-Newhall, Miller, Holtz, & Brewer, 1993; Huo, Smith, Tyler, & Lind, 1996). Identifying with a larger community thus has "healing" properties, and Service Learning permits this, by enabling youth to collaborate with each other and with adults.

Conceived in terms of race relations, we have long known that busing youth to integrate schools does not ensure that shared activities are pursued or friendships forged across racial lines (Brewer & Miller, 1984; Hewstone, 1986; Pettigrew, in press-1998). Very often there is voluntary social segregation in schools (Dent, 1993; Tatum, 1997), as elsewhere in society (e.g., Shipler, 1997). However, when activities explicitly enable youth--and adults--to work together cooperatively across intergroup boundaries, this can heal tensions (Hawley & Jackson, 1995; Heath & McLaughlin, 1993; Slavin & Madden, 1979). Again, Service Learning does this.

In the following pages, research is reviewed showing that Service Learning fosters youth development--as assessed by a variety of indicators. At the outset, Service Learning is defined, and types of Service Learning considered. The comprehensive literature review follows. Some consideration is then given to the debate about voluntary or mandatory Service Learning. Then a national strategy for making Service Learning more widely available to youth throughout the nation--based on policies that support private-public partnerships--is presented.

Overall, the evidence justifies acting now to make Service Learning a central part of our national conversation on education, to build collaborations between educational institutions and communities, and to give all youth the opportunity to serve.

B. What is Service Learning?

Some basic definitions. Service Learning is a growing pedagogy that integrates community service in to an organized curriculum that includes regular opportunities for personal reflection. In Service Learning:

· youth are encouraged to take the lead

· in responding to genuine community needs

· through service that is integrated into a thoughtfully organized curriculum

· and accompanied by regular opportunities for personal reflection

There is more to be said about guidelines, addressed in detail later, but these four basics in Service Lear ning are widely shared (derived from ASLER and Wingspread Guidelines; ASLER, 1993; Honnet & Poulsen, 1989; see also Cairn & Kielsmeier, 1995; Clark, 1993; Gulati-Partee & Finger, 1996; Kielsmeier, 1997; Kinsley, 1997; Kinsley & McPherson, 1995; Jacoby, 1996; Totten & Pedersen, 1997). Service Learning invites children and youth to work together and with adults to serve within their own school (or another school) by tutoring or peer-mentoring, or in the broader community by working in environmental settings, food banks, community or senior centers. It offers the opportunity to serve, giving youth the sense that they can make a difference by using what they have learned (Kendall & Associates, 1990; Kennedy, 1991; Sagawa & Halperin, 1993; Wofford, 1994).

There are many inspiring anecdotes that have built up around Service Learning over recent years, and the research has now begun to catch up. Although more research is always needed, the existing evidence in support of Service Learning is compelling. Service Learning is not a silver bullet. It is a targeted and effective strategy for youth development that builds on the strengths of youth in the context of education and service.

Service Learning involves regular opportunities for reflection. Refection is basic to Service Learning both because of its relevance to the curriculum into which the service integrated and because it is personal, giving students the opportunity to think and write and talk about what they have learned. It also allows students to express their personal feelings about the difficult conditions they have observed (e.g., homelessness) and to try to understand them. When students share their experiences with others, in small, informal groups, much of the real learning in Service Learning takes place (Cunningham, 1996; Genzer & Finger, 1996; Hatcher & Bringle, 1996; Harvey, 1996; National Helper's Network, 1991; Silcox, 1993; Toole & Toole, 1995; Wells, 1997). One-to-one reflection may also occur, so that youth less likely to speak in a group are able to communicate with another participant. Journal-writing is also an option. Importantly, reflection enables students think through how to improve their efforts to serve, to better address community needs, and to use existing community and school resources more wisely. This involves active negotiating, planning, and evaluating. It also helps students better understand curricular materials, solidifying learning.

Refection also helps establish new relationships between Service Learning students, and with adults and staff--because of its honest, supportive, collaborative nature. Indeed, a major aim of reflection is to foster caring relationships while serving the community competently (National Helper's Network, 1991). Such open dialogue can facilitate greater caring (e.g., Noddings, 1994; Tatum, 1992) because it requires respectful listening and the expression of one's own perceptions and feelings, which can be transformative (see Tirozzi & Uro, 1997). It is practice in the art caring, which is likely contribute to emotional intelligence, youth resilience, and social capital (Benard, 1995; Briggs, 1997; Bullard, 1996; Duvall, 1994; Noddings, 1988; Goleman, 1995; Rutter, 1987).

Ideally, reflection includes participants from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, so that it reduces barriers and builds bonds between students who might not otherwise engage in dialogue, nor see commonalities, because they are from different backgrounds and/or because of prejudice. When students come to "identify with" the act of being of service, thus becoming closer to others also serving, as well as with those served, they become more likely to engage in perspective-taking and experience an enhanced sense of connection with others. Meaningful communication between students about their effort to make a difference also increases social discourse on service at this micro-level, paving the way for more broad-based civic dialogue over time.

Of course, there are different levels at which reflection can be implemented--after the service, both before and after the service, or systematically throughout the service including before and after. Reflection in advance is important because it allows students to assess community needs, along with community capacities, so that they can actively design and implement services in the context of their curriculum. Without reflection in advance, this is not possible. Reflection throughout offers the opportunity to air concerns and make service corrections mid-stream. Reflection afterward enables greater understanding and closure, and celebration of achievements.

Service Learning is integrated into an organized curriculum. Service Learning is designed to enrich a curriculum, to make the curriculum relevant, and thus to support the academic knowledge acquired in the curriculum, while learning real-world skills. In Service Learning, students "learn by doing," building new competencies and sometimes even learning marketable expertise, which makes Service Learning resemble school-to-work and internship programs, that is, when focused on service and including a curricular and reflection basis (Gomez, 1996; Silcox, 1995; see also Rifkin, 1997). Because Service Learning is designed to make didactic material relevant to solving real-world problems, the curriculum component is essential. Service Learning taps higher order problem-solving skills, helping children and youth to use their knowledge in new ways, and supports the curriculum by involving the "whole student" in the learning process with all his or her senses.

The curriculum component of Service Learning is what gives Service Learning meaning for students--helping to ensure that students are not simply logging in community service hours or filling a gap in their resume. It shows how service relates to learning and suggests ways to use knowledge gained to address social problems. Conceptions of Service Learning have evolved over more than a decade (Kendall & Associates, 1990) and continue to do so (e.g., Dugan, 1997), but a relevant and organized curriculum integration is essential. Numerous curriculum examples are available at all grade and academic levels (e.g., Cairn & Coble, 1993; Cairn & Kielsmeier, 1995; Cofer, 1997; Developmental Studies Center, 1996; Kinsley & McPherson, 1995; Jacoby, 1996; LaPlante & Kinsley, 1994; Lewis, 1994 National Helper's Network, 1995; National Youth Leadership Council, 1994; Stephens, 1995; Totten & Pedersen, 1997), suggesting excellent practices for all ages based on a wide variety of service activities. And new curricular examples continue to become available.

Some other distinctions. Service Learning:

· is not simply community service

· is used "formally" in schools, colleges, and universities

· is also be used "informally" in community-based organizations

· invokes an atmosphere in which everyone is a learner and a beneficiary

· is neither the "privileged" helping the poor nor the "poor" repaying a societal debt

· is social responsibility for all regardless of socioeconomic background

· need not be mandatory in education, but may be available as an opportunity

In the latter vein, it has even been argued that Service Learning is an exercise in civic participation and liberty (Barber, 1992). When multiple options for Service Learning activities are available, or when the experience is entirely voluntary, so that children and youth (and their parents) are able to opt out, there is little basis for worry about concerns such as "forced servitude." Critics of Service Learning have clearly raised these issues, and poorly implemented Service Learning efforts should be improved so as to emphasize active student decision-making and collaboration (with parental and community voices heard as well). But the language of "forced servitude" flies in the face of basic definitions of Service Learning and thus should not be problematic. More appears on the debate concerning Service Learning requirements vs. options in subsequent pages, but suffice it to say for now that proper implementation can resolve such concerns.

Importantly, Service Learning also involves mutual exchange between "helper" and "recipient," as noted, enabling students of all ages to see that they have much to learn from each other and from working together in real-world situations with people in difficult circumstances and trying to make a difference--with the guidance and encouragement of teachers, professors, and staff. The emphasis on mutual exchange is especially crucial in the relationship between the Service Learning student and those served. To ensure that the service is responsive to a real community need, members of the community must be asked about their own needs, and the services tailored accordingly. The strengths and special capacities of those served, which they might want to contribute as well, also are important to identify. A crucial factor is to determine whether or not a given service is wanted so as to make sure to address a genuine need. Of course, service must also be delivered with caring and respect for the dignity of those served, and a similar caring and respect is encouraged between teachers and students, staff and students, teachers and staff, and so on.

When mutual exchange is present in Service Learning, its positive outcomes are more likely to occur (see Scales & Blyth, 1997). When those served are respected and their own capacities acknowledged, a collaborative atmosphere emerges in which everyone is a learner and everyone a beneficiary (see Ayers & Ray, 1995), a matter captured well by an Australian Aboriginal woman (cited in Weah & Wegner, 1997), "If you are coming over to help me, don't bother. But if you're coming over because you think your liberation is bound up with mine, let's work together." Students must bring an attitude of mutual respect to the tasks of Service Learning, and build trust among themselves, as well as with educators and staff, and with those served (Ayers & Ray, 1995).

Of course, people can serve their communities at any age, and there are numerous pathways for serving, with Service Learning only one such pathway. It could, however, become the most accessible pathway of all--if it were to be made available as an option to every student in every grade and academic level throughout American schooling, as integral both to K-12 and to higher education.

C. Examples of Service Learning

Service Learning can involve service in the broader community, in the student's own school or in another school. Either way, it is integrated into a curriculum with reflection. There are numerous curricular examples, as noted, as well as numerous possible service activities (e.g., Lewis, 1991, 1995).

Tutoring. Ongoing problems in schools and communities can interfere with teachers' ability to gain and keep students' attention, to move beyond discipline problems, and to provide kids with the one-to-one experience most useful especially in teaching reading. One-to-one attention is needed in learning to read, and especially if a child is not read to at home and does not read (or try to read) at home, this is needed elsewhere. Older students can tutor younger ones as Service Learning tutors--in reading, in math, in computer literacy, or another subject area. The special attention they receive can motivate children to participate more actively in their own learning, often simply because they like being with an older student (Developmental Studies Center, 1996). It can also invoke interest, effort, and persistence, as well as success, rewarding for the Service Learning student as well.

Service Learning students as tutors for younger children hold special promise because they can address educational deficits and act as role-models for young children at the same time, showing that it is "cool" to know things and to be academically successful (Raspberry, 1997a). Experience with older students as tutors may also suggest to those tutored that it is "cool" to make a contribution to another person's life. The experience is clearly mutual. Teaching is often the best way to learn, so tutors gain in this way as well. Tutoring in reading can obviously be incorporated into English courses or a variety of other courses, while tutoring in computer literacy can be part of science and computer science, and math tutoring part of arithmetic, algebra, or geometry (Stephens, 1995). Of course, tutoring can also be part of an "informal" curriculum coordinated by a community-based organization. As with much Service Learning, it can take place either during the school day or in after-school programs, a crucial gap for many students (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1992; Inlong, 1998), and may take place on school grounds or elsewhere.

Given that there is an ongoing national literacy campaign involving reading tutors, another involving computer and technology literacy, and a still another initiative in mathematics education, these initiatives can provide a framework for involving large numbers of youth, trained as tutors in Service Learning, to participate in addressing these pressing needs, while reaping benefits for their own education and development as well. Importantly, Service Learning in the form of tutoring, can be of special value in helping others to learn reading, math, and computers because of the one-to-one attention often needed in learning each of these skills. In learning to read, in particular, evidence suggests that a crucial element is being read to and reading aloud oneself with another person who is a skilled reader (MacIver, Reuman, & Main, 1995)--who helps in pronouncing words, in grasping meaning, and in practicing reading (National Research Council, 1998). Service Learning, informed by this knowledge, thus offers a viable vehicle for these tutoring initiatives.

Peer-mentoring. Peer-mentoring or "buddy" programs, in which older kids are "buddies" to younger ones, provide younger kids with an enhanced sense of connection with another person who can become significant to them, who is available to talk to, learn from, and build a relationship with (Developmental Studies Center, 1996; National Helper's Network, 1995; Switzer, Simmons, Dew, Regalski, & Wang, 1995). Younger children usually feel honored to spend time with older ones, making participation feel like a privilege, so long as the attitude of the buddy is not condescending, and the buddy sees the younger student as being on equal footing. Pairing younger kids with older ones can help younger kids feel less alienated, building a sense of belonging and trust. Older kids, too, often feel honored to be asked to help out with someone younger, which can be empowering and competence-building, and can have a pivotal impact on what older kids come to believe matters to them. There can also be learning components to buddy systems, as in reading play or math play or other games, while retaining the emphasis on connection and caring rather than on teaching. Peer-mentoring can be integrated into social studies, civics, history, and psychology, or into a curriculum at a community-based organization. And to the degree that peer-mentoring involves some tutoring, or vice versa, a dual purpose may be served by either.

Environmental projects. There are numerous examples of Service Learning activities that can take place in the broader community. For example, environmental conservation projects may be undertaken in parks, environmental work sites, animal-protection centers, or recycling centers; and neighborhoods and school grounds can also be beautified with clean-ups, gardens planted, and so on. These activities can be integrated into general science, biology, chemistry, or environmental science courses, or into a curriculum in a community-based organization on principles of conservation, recycling, reducing environmental toxicity, and clean-up.

Social service projects. A variety of social service activities can take place in the b roader community, in social service agencies or elsewhere, such as community centers, senior centers, day-care centers, day treatment centers, food distribution centers for the homeless or homebound, and community policing centers. Again, neighborhoods and school grounds can be beautified. These activities can be integrated into social studies, civics, American history, psychology, or sociology courses, or into a variety of curricula in a community-based organization, focusing for example on growing old or on homelessness.

D. What Does Service Learning Accomplish?

Service Learning offers a concrete strategy for youth development, conceived in terms of central elements of both char acter and civic education. Even though the fields of Service Learning, character education, civic education, and youth development are distinct, Service Learning facilitates character education (Institute for Global Ethics, 1996; see also Berman et al., 1997; Boston, in press-1998) as well as civic education (Boston, 1997; Clark, 1993; Brandell & Hinck, 1997; Youniss & Yates, 1997), and should thus be a prominent part of conversations in these fields, as in youth development, where increasingly it is (National Research Council, 1997).

Persuasive research findings have amassed on Service Learning from three major, national studies (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Eyler, Giles, & Braxt on, 1997; Melchior, 1997; see also previous reviews Alt & Medrich, 1994; Conrad & Hedin, 1982; Scales & Blyth, 1997), which show, along with other studies, that Service Learning is associated with significant pre-test/post-test increases in:

·Civic Engagement

·The Ethic of Service

·Civic Attitudes

·Social Connection

·Acceptance of Diversity


·Protection against Risky Behavior

·Academic Achievement

Research on the effects of Service Learning, of course, is not about testing individual student achievement to determine course grades or other academic decisions. The research is done at the aggregate level and provides evidence about what impact this teaching and learning strategy tends to have. As in any research, participants are free to choose not to participate (with parental consent required for minors), and participants' responses are confidential or anonymous. The point of reviewing research on the effects of Service Learning, as an educational strategy, is to present the case that it facilitates youth development in ways widely held to be desirable while doing no harm to student achievement. Reports of such findings have no implications for how achievement standards should be set or for how student testing should proceed, nationally or locally. Hence, the argument that policies should be supported that increase Service Learning opportunities for students should not be embroiled in debates about national educational standards, a matter thoroughly enmeshed with national testing (Ravitch, 1995).

Of course, existing research is still fairly new and has its limitations. For example, even though Service Learning clearly involves curriculum and reflection components, and a more sustained and concerted service effort than a one-shot deal of a few hours (Danzig & Stanton, 1983), quality of implementation is not often included as a measure in research designs. For obvious reasons, all research also makes use of self-report instruments because such measures provide the most straightforward way of tapping effects of interest. Continued research is needed, especially focused on well-implemented Service Learning, on experiments that randomly assign students to Service Learning or to other pedagogical approaches within the same (or comparable) courses, and on large-scale longitudinal studies. Nonetheless, the existing evidence is quantitative and impressive.

First, the nature of each of the three national, longitudinal studies is described in brief:

The Brandeis study (Melchior, 1997) focused on middle schools and high schools, and 17 sites chosen because Service Learning at these sites was well-implemented. It had been in operation for more than one year, was integrated into the curriculum, and was accompanied by reflection. The sites were 10 high schools and 7 middle schools representing urban, suburban, and rural communities, while 4 sites featured at-risk youth. Approximately 1,000 Service Learning and comparison students completed both pre-test and post-test measures (with most developed by the Search Institute in Minneapolis), and the service included more than 60 hours of service per semester. All effects reported held for male and female participants, for white and minority students, and for at-risk, educationally disadvantaged, and economically disadvantaged students, as well as for their more privileged counterparts. The study found no negative impacts and demonstrated positive impacts reflecting nearly every one of the effects of Service Learning just noted, as indicated in the interim report (Melchior, 1997).

There are two national studies in higher education. The Vanderbilt study (Eyler et al., 1997) involved 20 colleges and universities and over 1500 students in a variety of geographical locations in both private and public universities and also small, liberal arts colleges. All Service Learning was directly integrated into a course curriculum in an Arts & Science course rather than being part of an internship, fieldwork, or professional school course (although these forms were also studied). Service Learning students chose this option (n = 616) and were compared on pre-test and post-test measures with control students who elected a different option. Effects emerged for what the authors termed citizenship confidence, values, and skills, and perceptions of social justice, all characterized below within the relevant section.

The other national study in higher education, the UCLA study (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Sax et al., 1996), involved 42 sites and over 2,300 students participating in some kind of community service (including over 470 explicitly identified by their institutions as participating in Service Learning), and a comparison sample of over 1,100 nonparticipants. No procedure was used to gauge how well the Service Learning per se was implemented, leaving students doing free-standing community service, rather than curriculum-integrated service, in the Service Learning sample. Hence, this "noise" in the evaluation is compromising, but the advantage is the large number of sites and students.

To provide a sense of the range of all the studies to be reviewed, the table presented next classifies them by their type and scope. The studies are divided into national surveys, smaller scale surveys, and smaller-scale experiments as well as according to the educational level of the students involved--middle/high school and higher education. Certain unique advantages of the smaller-scale surveys and experiments account for their inclusion.



Melchior (1997): "Brandeis Study"
Follman & Muldoon (1997): Florida Public Schools

Philliber & Allen (1992): Teen Outreach

Rutter & Newmann (1989)

Conrad & Hedin (1982)

Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik (1982)

Youniss, McLellan, & Yates (1997)
Eyler, Giles, & Braxton (1997): "Vanderbilt Study"
Astin & Sax (in press) and Sax et al. (1996): UCLA Study"

Sax & Alexander (1997)






Calabrese & Schumer (1986)
Cognetta & Sprinthall (1978)
Myers-Lipton (1996)

Myers-Lipton (1996/1997)

Giles & Eyler (1994)

Yates & Youniss (1996)

Batchelder & Root (1994)

Cohen & Kinsey (1994)

Eyler & Halteman (1981)




Hamilton & Zeldin (1987)

Switzer, Simmons, Dew, Regalski, & Wang (1995)
Markus, Howard, & King (1993)
Boss (1994)


And now, the findings:

Engaging youth with their communities. Civic engagement is of the essence in youth deve lopment, as discussed, and if Service Learning is a strategy for youth development, it should enhance civic engagement. It conveys that each student is valued and has something to offer, and should counteract powerlessness (Kennedy, 1991). The oft quoted statement of Martin Luther King, "everyone is great because everyone can serve," is a call to service as civic engagement (Schine & Halsted, 1997).

In the Brandeis study in middle schools and high schools, Service Learning students showed enhanced civic efficacy or engagement in terms of their self-reports of community service leadership (Melchior, 1997). Compared with students not participating, they showed pre-test/post-test increases in self-reported agreement with items on this measure such as, "I believe that I personally can make a difference in my community," "I enjoy doing something that will benefit others in the community," and "I am aware of needs in my community that I can do something about." Thus, the study shows that Service Learning among middle and high schoolers is associated with increased civic engagement. The strength of the study is its multi-site, national focus. Its weakness is that it is correlational, meaning that the effects of self-selecting into Service Learning courses cannot be fully accounted for or ruled out, thus requiring caution in drawing conclusions. On the other hand, for many student participants, they had little explicit choice about participating because Service Learning was simply the process of teaching and learning their teacher had chosen, a fact that mitigates self-selection problems to an extent, as does taking pre-existing differences between groups into account in analyses.

The Vanderbilt study in higher education (Eyler et al., 1994) provides strong support for increased civic efficacy. The study found significant pre-test/post-test increases among Service Learning students, relative to control students, in ratings of their personal efficacy in influencing community issues, and ratings of the community's capacity to solve its own problems. Relative to control students, they also showed significant increases in their ratings of the value they placed on trying to influence policy, and in their ratings of their belief that societal problems can be changed by public policy.

Similarly, the UCLA study in higher education (Sax et al., 1996) indicated significant results for civic engagement (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Sax et al., 1996). Service Learning students, as compared with nonparticipants, showed significant increases in their reports of commitment to influencing the political structure of society and social values. They also reported more disagreement with the statement: "Realistically, an individual can do little to change society," and reported enhanced leadership ability as well. Both higher education studies again involved self-selection and thus pose interpretational challenges, even with pre-test differences controlled statistically, because this does not rule out all potential causes. Still, the expanse of the studies and their comparable findings make them compelling.

Rectifying self-selection problems, one of the few experimental studies in the field randomly assigned high school students to Service Learning or not, via a placement in a local government office for one semester (Hamilton & Zeldin, 1987). Random assignment allowed definitive conclusions about causal impact, and the results indicated significant increases in their self-reported competence in doing political work, their self-reports of respect for government, and their self-reported belief that government is responsive to people's needs. Analyses controlled for a variety of pre-test differences that may have survived the random assignment, and the data thus make it clear that increases in political efficacy did result from this Service Learning. Also, the students permitted to ask questions of their sponsors during legislative sessions in the government settings in which they were placed reported deriving more from their experience, suggesting a special role for being actively engaged in the service experience. Although the "content" of the service in a government setting may in itself have changed attitudes about government, the effects are impressive, and demonstrate enhanced civic engagement.

In another experimental study, this time in higher education (Markus, Howard, & King, 1993; see also Alt & Medrich, 1994), undergraduates in a political science class were randomly assigned to a section of the course in which they participated in 20 hours of community service or not, in one of a variety of settings. Results showed that these students, relative to nonparticipating students in the same class, were more likely to report crediting the course with increasing their sense of political efficacy and with leading them to believe they can make a difference in the world. Random assignment again allows the causal conclusion to be drawn that Service Learning produced the effect, and the numerous service options available to students in this study de-couples the effect of increased political efficacy from placement in a government setting.

A related study in higher education required a fieldwork placement as for all students, although all were social-service majors and self-selected in this sense (Giles & Eyler, 1994). The results showed significant pre-test/post-test increases in these students self-reported belief people can make a difference in society, that is, in their civic or political efficacy. They also showed significantly higher ratings of the importance of influencing politics and ratings of aspiring to become a community leader. Finally, they showed significant increases in their self-reported belief that community involvement is important and that all people should get involved. The study used no control group, nor sophisticated analyses; it did, however, require Service Learning, allowing stronger conclusions in this sense, except for the social-service-major sample.

In a different kind of study, using a quasi-experimental design (Calabrese & Schumer, 1986), 9th graders with behavioral problems were randomly assigned to a condition in which they participated in community service for 10 weeks or not, and then if they did, were allowed to "decide" to continue the service for another 10 weeks (or not). The results showed that students who continued their service showed significant decreases in their self-reports of social alienation relative to nonparticipating students, who actually showed slight increases in social alienation. The "choice factor" made the design quasi-experimental and less than ideal because continuing students were this much more committed already. Still, the results are provocative.

A recent literature review examined a set of long-term, longitudinal studies to determine how service involvement is related to civic participation later in life. Although not specific to Service Learning, the study concluded that high school students who took part in community service (or school governance) were more likely than nonparticipants to be engaged in community organizations and in voting 15 (or more) years later (Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1997). Self-selection effects prevent firm conclusions, but this evidence makes it clear that youth engagement does differentiate adults in terms of civic engagement, a provocative finding indeed.

Inspiring students to take responsibility and to work together in a self-disciplined way to find solutions to social and environmental problems that they are able to identify, helps them to find their "voice" and to become active in their own learning. When youth feel personally invested in this way, it allows them to identify with their experiences, internalize them (see Deci, 1995; Deci & Ryan, 1986), and achieve positive outcomes in so doing. Indeed, the greatest benefits accrue from Service Learning when a sense of connection with others is balanced with support for individual autonomy (e.g., Allen et al., 1994), making each participant's "voice" crucial (Kielsmeier, 1997; see also Chalk & Phillips, 1996; Pittman, 1991).

Developing the ethic of service. Service Learning also appears to provide a superb vehicle for promoting the ethic of service (Coles, 1993). The ethic of contributing to the common good--one's own community, the broader human community, the global environment--involves caring enough about everyone's survival that it serves others across intergroup boundaries. It involves the ethic of caring about others (Noddings, 1988; see also Benard, 1995), and the basic human need for human connection (Andersen et al., 1997). It also involves a commitment to service and volunteerism that is potentially lifelong (Conrad & Hedin, 1982; Melchior, 1997; Youniss et al, 1997).

The Brandeis study in middle and high schools showed that among Service Learning students over 90% reported believing students should be encouraged to participate in community service (although not required), and also believing that they had been able to be helpful in their communities (Melchior, 1997). These students reported being 30% more likely to do volunteer work over 6 months, providing 2 to 6 times more volunteer hours than nonparticipants (an average of 100 hours vs. 37.5 hours). Hence, participation in Service Learning appears to encourage voluntary service. In addition, the measure of community service leadership, described previously in discussing civic engagement, included an item that directly assessed the ethic of service, "I am committed to community service both now and later in life." The item was not analyzed separately, but the overall measure revealed a significant impact.

An early study in 27 school-based programs also suggested that Service Learning is associated with increased reports of interest in volunteerism in the future (Conrad & Hedin, 1982). In addition, the evidence already described showing that voluntary service in high school predicts actual community involvement 15 years later (Youniss et al., 1997) suggests that such activities may well engender a service ethic. Although self-selection is again a problem, the results do converge.

The Vanderbilt study in higher education (Eyler et al., 1997) provides similar evidence. Analyses controlling for pre-test measures clearly showed that Service Learning undergraduates were significantly more likely than control students to report that citizens should volunteer in community service and even to report that service should be a requirement in school. Relative to control students, they also reported placing increased personal value on volunteering and also on having a career that involves helping others, covarying out pre-test differences. Hence, although self-selection warrants caution, the data show increases in the ethic of service.

The UCLA study in higher education (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Sax et al., 1996) also supports this conclusion. At post-test, participating students showed significantly more reported commitment to helping others in difficulty, to participating in community action programs, and to being involved in environmental clean-up activities, while controlling pre-test differences.

In a small-scale study (without a control group; Giles & Eyler, 1994), college students engaged in service in a fieldwork requirement for their social-service major and were significantly more likely at post-test than at pre-test to report the intention to do volunteer work the following semester.

Importantly, this finding was replicated in a nationwide, long-term, longitudinal study of than 12,000 college freshmen beginning in 1985 (see Sax & Alexander, 1997), following up with them when they were seniors in 1989, and again 5 years later in 1994. The results showed that community service participation as an undergraduate strongly predicted reports of activism and volunteerism in the 5 years following graduation, even when statistically controlling freshman-year predispositions toward service. Although self-selection can be problematic even when statistically controlling pre-test indices, the weight of the evidence showing an enhanced ethic of service is compelling.

An experimental study (Markus et al., 1993) in which college students were randomly assigned to Service Learning or to a control condition, showed significant pre-test/post-test increases (relative to controls) in the value students reported placing on pursuing a career that helps others, and on volunteering to help people in need. It also showed significant increases in their reported belief that adults should give some time for good of their community or country, and in their report of crediting their Service Learning course for strengthening their intention to contribute to charities and to serve others in need. The experimental design demonstrates definitively that Service Learning can cause students to develop an ethic of service.

Enhancing civic attitudes. Socializing citizenship values is at the basis of civic education (McLeod, Horowitz, & Evaland, 1995), and Service Learning appears to facilitate such values. Service Learning may foster civic values in part because it relies heavily on active learning (Barnett, 1996; Finken, 1996; Morse, 1996; Tyler, 1990). It introduces students to a participatory form of education, in which they learn through experience (Clark, 1993; Gulati-Partee & Finger, 1996; Kendall & Associates, 1990; Kinsley & McPherson, 1995). Students guide their own learning, work cooperatively with others, problem-solve, negotiate mutually acceptable solutions, resolve conflicts peacefully, make joint decisions, and take action, in teamwork--all basic skills needed in democratic affairs (Quigley, 1997; Tyack, 1997; Hart, 1989; MacLeod, Horowitz, & Evaland, 1995; see also Center for Civic Education, 1994). Of course, a social action model of civic education does not provide the only viable definition. But working together in cooperative efforts that are mutually defined by students is part of well-implemented Service Learning and has clear relevance to civic education, even if democratic processes to not appear to students to characterize the school at large. Such cooperative activity also happens to be part of effective functioning in workplaces, and it is of value in this respect as well (on vocational Service Learning, see Gomez, 1996; Silcox, 1995). Of central interest here, a core element of civic attitudes is social responsibility (Banaszak, Hartoonian, Leming, 1997; Brandell & Hinck, 1997; Derringer & Kattef, 1997; Kielsmeier, 1997; Kurtzburg & Fougnan, 1997; Youniss et al, 1997), and the data suggest this is facilitated by Service Learning.

The Brandeis study in middle and high schools (Melchior, 1997) clearly shows enhanced civic attitudes in terms of a self-report measure of personal and social responsibility. The measure included a variety of item s involving helping other people in need, protecting the environment (e.g., recycling), and being aware of and active in school, community, and state issues. Respondents indicated how responsible they felt--and also how everyone should feel--to engage in relevant actions. Participating students showed positive, statistically significant pre-test/post-test increases, relative to nonparticipants, in their reported perceptions of personal and social responsibility. This same measure, originally developed and used in research on 27 school-based programs, yielded the same results in this earlier research (Conrad & Hedin, 1982). The authors of a recent literature review--showing that service in high school continues 15 years into adulthood--have in fact interpreted this evidence as suggesting that the experience promotes the construction of "civic identity," a sense of a duty to take part in civic affairs (Youniss et al., 1997). In another early study of 8 school-based community service initiatives (Rutter & Newmann, 1989), the findings indicated that increases in civic responsibility do not always occur, but when they do, the process of reflection tends to be key. Of course, self-selection effects again warrants caution.

In the Vanderbilt study in higher education (Eyler et al., 1997), the evidence similarly shows increased civic attitudes and values. Students in Service Learning courses showed significant pre-test/post-test increases, relative to nonparticipants, in their reported skills in political participation and in issue-identification, even when controlling pre-test indices. These students also became more likely to report attributing social problems to systemic factors.

The UCLA higher education study (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Sax et al., 1996) yielded the same kinds of findings. After serving, students were significantly more likely than nonparticipants to report changes during college in their understanding of community problems and the nation's problems, in their ability to work cooperatively with others, and in their skills in conflict resolution and in thinking critically. Thus, increases in civic values have been quite clearly demonstrated, although self-selection effects again argue for caution.

In an experiment with college students (Markus et al., 1993), students randomly assigned to Service Learning were significantly more likely than were control students to report crediting the course for heightening their sense of social responsibility--e.g., their belief that helping those in need is one's social responsibility. These students were also significantly more than control students to report having reconsidered their own values and attitudes during the course, and acquired greater awareness of society's problems. In an experiment with high school students (Hamilton & Zeldin, 1987), students assigned to Service Learning in a government office, relative to controls, showed significantly higher reports of impact on their knowledge of local government (although the explicit content of their placement must be noted). This solid experimental evidence thus demonstrates that the experience can produce enhanced civic attitudes and civic knowledge.

A quasi-experimental study assessed intensive Service Learning in a small sample of college students, who did 6 hours of community service per week for two semesters over 2 years, integrated into 4 different academic courses, and used international understanding as an index of civic knowledge (Myers-Lipton, 1996/7). The results indicated significantly increased scores on a self-report measure of international understanding among Service Learning students relative to controls (engaged in volunteerism but no course work or in no service at all). The small sample and self-selection suggest caution, but there is again a clear association.

Cultivating a sense of social connection. The Brandeis study in middle and high schools (Melchior, 1997) showed that, among Service Learning students, 75% reported having developed at least one positive personal relationship in their experience, generally with another student or with someone served. Moreover, 82% of the participating community organizations reported that community members developed more positive attitudes toward youth based on their work. A smaller study involving 8 school-based service initiatives showed significant increases among participating students in their ratings of the availability of opportunities for productive relationships and for feeling appreciated by others, such as in being able to earn a child's trust (Rutter & Newmann, 1989). Significantly higher ratings of perceived social competence were also found. Overall, these data clearly highlight relationship building in Service Learning (Scales & Blyth, 1997). In fact, when students are asked about what was important to them in their Service Learning experiences, they often cited particular relationships with people with whom they served in identifying what had the most impact on them (Conrad & Hedin, 1989).

Importantly, the Vanderbilt study in higher education (Eyler et al., 1994) explicitly demonstrated that Service Learning students scored significant higher at post-test than at pre-test, relative to students not participating, in their self-reports of having a sense of community connectedness, of their openness to multiple points of view, and of their belief that resolving social injustice in society should be a priority (on a social justice measure), controlling for pre-test perceptions. They also showed significantly increased scores on a self-report measure of perspective-taking, that is, in the ability to place the self in the position of the other, as compared with control students. The UCLA study also showed significant increases in reported social self-confidence (Sax et al., 1996). And, in an experiment in higher education (Markus et al., 1993), students randomly assigned to Service Learning, rather than to another pedagogy, were significantly more likely to report crediting the class for increasing their orientation toward others and away from the self. Given random assignment in the latter study, Service Learning can clearly produce enhanced social connectedness.

Indications are that perspective-taking goes hand in hand with empathy (e.g., Batson, 1991; Berman et al., 1997). Hence, the increases in perspective-taking in the Vanderbilt study, and related findings, may be suggestive of increased empathy based on Service Learning as well. And because empathy has been shown to mediate prosocial behavior (Batson, 1991), the results are even suggestive of increased prosocial behavior, although such claims exceed the present data. In one supportive study, however, college students in Service Learning courses were asked to write reflections--in response to hypothetical problems--which were then classified, using content-coding, on a variety of dimensions, and the results showed significant pre-test/post-test increases in empathic reasoning scores (Batchelder & Root, 1994). This finding corroborates perspective-taking evidence from the Vanderbilt study, among others, and draws the empathy link in Service Learning. In this study, students' written reflections also showed more prosocial decision-making, again based on content-coding. With all due caution as regards self-selection and the lack of a control group, this study provides support for an association between Service Learning and enhanced perspective-taking, empathy, and prosocial values.

Related evidence exists from a study of high school students participating in a course on community justice and working in a soup kitchen (as a requirement), who were also asked to write reflections, this time about their experiences. The essays were coded for the extent to which students linked their specific experiences to something beyond that reality (Yates & Youniss, 1996a). Although there was no control group, nearly 45% of students' first written reflections dealt with those served as individuals rather than as stereotypes and referred to seeing themselves (and all people) as similar to those served. In addition, pre-test/post-test changes indicated that students' written reflections dealt increasingly with awareness of injustice in the other's situation and the need for social change, leading the authors to conclude that the service involved acquiring a more nuanced (in the authors' terms, transcendent) interpretation of life events and circumstances, and an expanded social identity (or "civic" identity) including these others. Indeed, one of the experiments in higher education (Markus et al., 1993) showed pre-test/post-test increases in participants, relative to controls, in reports of the value they placed on working toward equal opportunity, which provides experimental evidence that this kind of caring about others is enhanced by Service Learning participation.

In terms of perspective-taking, other research has suggested that children with better perspective-taking skills are more likely to have close friendships, as compared with those without such skills (McGuire & Weirs, 1982), implying that caring relationships among young people involve perspective-taking, which may be true in Service Learning as well, a matter worthy of continued research. Indeed, a small study of social-service majors in college--in a required Service Learning course (Giles & Eyler, 1994)--showed that nearly all participants, on an open-ended measure, reported a personal involvement with a particular person (or various people) they served. A related, quasi-experimental study, in which undergraduates were randomly assigned to Service Learning and then allowed to choose whether or not to continue it for a longer period (Calabrese & Schumer, 1986), also showed that longer-serving students were more likely to report having formed new relationships with other students in the process.

This research highlights relationships developed in Service Learning. It is important because research on character education in schools has shown that when the relationships youth experience in school lead them to perceive the school as a caring community--in which they feel cared for and appreciated--this mediates the increases in prosocial values that may emerge based on character-education interventions (Schaps, Battistich, & Solomon, 1997; Solomon, Watson, Battistich, Schaps, & Delucchi, 1992). This evidence shows the crucial role schools can play in offering caring environments for youth (see also Berman et al., 1997; Dieringer & Kattef, 1997; Noddings, 1987, 1988), and supports evidence from large-scale longitudinal research showing that adolescents' sense of connectedness within school (and community and family) serves as a significant protective factor against risky behavior and emotional distress (Resnick et al., 1997).

The bulk of this research implies an increased collective identity among youth in Service Learning. Interestingly, basic research in social psychology has shown that forming broader, superordinate, social identities that include "the other" reduces intergroup bias and facilitates a belief in social justice and the making of just decisions (Gaertner, Dovidio, Anastasio, Bachman, & Rust, 1993; Gaertner, Mann, Murrell, & Dovidio, 1989; Gaertner, Mann, Dovidio, Murrell, & Pomare, 1990; Huo et al, 1996). At its best, Service Learning fosters a caring community and new relationships (e.g., Calabrese & Schumer, 1986; Switzer et al., 1995)--with teachers, service professionals, community members, and other students. It offers youth new models of self-other relationships, likely to be central to character education (Berman et al., 1997; see also Andersen et al., 1997). It also makes use of some of the most powerful learning devices known to the behavioral sciences--learning by observation and learning by doing (Bandura, 1977, 1986), enabling it to be what teacher John Ruggeberg refers to as "character education with feet."

In this vein, an experiment in higher education addressing character education in terms of moral reasoning randomly assigned students to a Service Learning section of a philosophy course on ethics or to a different section taught by the same professor (Boss, 1994). The results showed significantly larger pre-test/post-test advances in their level of moral reasoning among participating students relative to comparison students. Among Service Learning students at post-test, 51% showed post-conventional, principled reasoning, while the figure was 14% at pre-test for everyone. At post-test, the control group remained unchanged at 13%. This measure of post-conventional, principled reasoning taps both social justice and "caring" and is clearly prosocial. Change in moral reasoning among Service Learning students was significantly related to their class participation (reflection), whereas no such relationship emerged among control students. Random assignment in this design enables the definitive conclusion that Service Learning can produce advances in moral reasoning.

Fostering acceptance of diversity. A great deal of research on intergroup relations, pr ejudice, and stereotyping in social psychology shows that engaging in shared activities toward mutually valued ends breaks down group barriers, promoting shared understanding across racial, ethnic, and other divides (e.g., Brewer & Miller, 1984; Hewstone, 1986; Pettigrew, in press-1998). Research on how to diminish prejudice also indicates that mere "contact" between groups is not sufficient to break down barriers. However, working together on equal footing, cooperatively, toward mutually valued goals, can build respect and trust, as well as friendships and amicable work relationships (Gaertner et al., 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994).

Working together cooperatively with people of differing faiths, ethnic ties or racial backgrounds can break down barriers (Slavin & Madden, 1979; see Hawley & Jackson, 1995), although this is not always easy because people of different backgrounds may have to work to identify shared values. But there are things all people have in common (minimally, their humanity), and this is especially possible to see in a given community or locale, and even in neighboring communities. Such themes can thus be identified, while differences in perspective are also aired with civility and respect. The reflection component of Service Learning, in particular, offers a prime opportunity for breaking down barriers in this way between students who might otherwise not have or use opportunities to share experiences with each other, and to experience commonalities as well as differences (Roberts-Weah, 1995; Sausjord, 1993; Toole & Toole, 1997). It can thus foster reductions in intergroup tensions (Sausjord, 1993; for related strategies, see Conard, 1988; Gabelko, 1988; Haugsby, 1991; Lynch, 1987; Pate, 1988; Reiken, 1952; Singh, 1991; Slavin & Madden, 1979; Sonnenschein, 1988; Sowell, 1990; Tatum, 1992).

The Brandeis study in middle schools and high schools has, in fact, demonstrated significant pre-test/post-test increases among participating students, relative to controls, in scores on a self-report measure of acceptance of diversity (Melchior, 1997). These students became less likely to agree with statements such as, "It bothers me if a teacher or classmate is different from me" and "I would rather not live near people of different races or ethnic groups." They also became more likely to agree with statements like, "I prefer to spend time with different types of people, not just people like me," and "I can learn a lot from people with backgrounds and experiences that are different from mine." Service Learning is thus significantly associated with increased acceptance of diversity, even though the oft-noted self-selection problem must be acknowledged.

The Vanderbilt study of higher education (Eyler et al., 1997) also indicated significant increases in self reports of tolerance for others, as part of a citizenship-skills assessment, controlling statistically for pretest differences. Corroborating this, the UCLA study in higher education (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Sax et al., 1996) showed that participating students, relative to controls, reported having changed more in college in their knowledge and acceptance of different races/cultures. In addition, students generally (and inexplicably) showed pre-test/post-test decreases in commitment to promoting racial understanding. Participating students, however, showed significantly smaller decreases on this measure.

A small-scale study of intensive Service Learning, integrating it into one course per semester for 2 years (for a total of 4 courses) (Myers-Lipton, 1996), showed significant pre-test/post-test declines in self-reported prejudice on the widely used Modern Racism Scale relative to control students. Again, an increase in prejudice scores was observed among students in two comparison groups. In conjunction with the UCLA study, these data suggest that higher education may not typically lead to reductions in racial prejudice (see Jackman & Muha, 1984), even though it does when pursued within a Service Learning framework. A smaller study involving a single college course supports this supposition by showing that among the participating students, 75% reported changing their views positively about the individuals they served, and that many had negative preconceptions at the outset (Giles & Eyler, 1994). In fact, significant pre-test/post-test improvements occurred among participating students in reported attitudes toward those served. The study also indicated that these students reported being less likely to blame those served for misfortunes and reported being more likely to attribute the misfortunes of those served to circumstance. Although there was no control group in this study, the findings are quite provocative.

Importantly, an experiment that randomly assigned college students to Service Learning (or to an alternative pedagogy in the same class) showed that they were significantly more likely to report crediting this class with heightening their tolerance for diversity than were students assigned to the control condition (Markus et al., 1993). With self-selection overcome by random assignment, this study provides solid evidence that Service Learning can produce increased acceptance of diversity. Consistent with this, participating students also showed pre-test/post-test decreases in their reports of making snap negative judgments about homeless people (relative to controls), an example of increased understanding/tolerance across socioeconomic divides.

Of course, it may be possible to foster a wider collective spirit, as in service (Stanton, 1990), through other activities, such as theater or school band (e.g., Benning, 1997), or sports when characterized by fair play (Gough, 1997; see also Raspberry, 1997b), or any number of cooperative, team-based activities. Such activities may foster acceptance of diversity especially when there is diversity among participants, based on the process of working with others cooperatively toward shared goals, a factor known to build bonds (Slavin & Madden, 1979), promote a common in-group identity (Gaertner, 1989, 1990, 1994) and mutual interdependence (Brewer, 1979, 1996; Fiske & Ruscher, 1993; Huo et al., 1996). The fact that Service Learning appears to foster a greater sense of community is relevant here as well (Eyler et al., 1997). For schools or communities that do not have this advantage, diversity in Service Learning can be achieved by partnering with another school or community-based organization that enables diversity in those doing the serving, and where feasible, in those served.

Diversity in work and reflection groups can have positive consequences under the right conditions for other reasons as well that are worth recognizing. It can empower minority youth, by beginning to break the presumed "success taboo" among some African American youth (especially males; Herbert, 1997). Recent evidence in social psychology relevant to this suggests that disadvantaged, stigmatized groups unwittingly internalize stereotyped conceptions of themselves in ways that have an impact on academic performance. They then dis-identify with activities in which they are alleged to be inferior (e.g., academics among African Americans, math among females), choosing not to invest their energies in these areas (Steele, 1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995). The process is not intractable because intergroup differences can be minimized in diverse work groups in which stereotyped individuals equal in talent to "advantaged" others can see "advantaged" others also having to work hard to achieve (Steele, 1992), which then eradicates performance differences. For youth who have dis-identified with school, Service Learning can make it relevant, by helping them to feel they have something to offer in their communities, and by putting them on equal footing with "advantaged" others as well.

On the other hand, studies of Service Learning that show increased acceptance of diversity did not necessarily involve such diversity in participants or in those served, and increased acceptance of diversity thus occurred even without such diversity (Melchior, 1997). This implies that the effect may emerge primarily on the basis of engaging in service, contributing to the common good cooperatively and reflecting on it, a process that may be sufficient to remind students of the common humanity of others and to show that everyone has something to offer. Of course, teachers and staff involved in such courses may make a point of enabling youth to discuss cultural diversity openly, to honor, respect, and celebrate it, and special benefits may accrue from this as well (Ayers & Ray, 1995; Roberts-Weah, 1995; Sausjord, 1993; Toole & Toole, 1997; see also Tatum, 1992).

Developing competence/self-esteem and protecting against risky behaviors. Using standar d measures of self-esteem and self-confidence, studies have suggested that participation in Service Learning is associated with greater increases in scores on self-report self-esteem measures (Conrad & Hedin, 1982; King, Walder, & Pavey, 1970; Newmann & Rutter, 1983; Tierney & Branch, 1992). Increased reports of self-confidence have also been observed based on service participation in studies of tutors for young children (Cognetta & Sprinthall, 1978; Conrad & Hedin, 1989; Hedin, 1987; although see Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982).

Supporting this proposition, at least in a limited way, an experimental study (directed by the National Center for Service Learning) randomly assigned junior high school students to Service Learning in which they served as "helpers" for the entire school year or to an alternative condition. Participating students served as tutors, companions at a senior center, or community helpers at a community organization. The results indicated that participating boys showed pre-test/post-test improvements on measures of both self-esteem and depressive affect, along with significant reductions in problem behavior in school, such as skipping class, being sent to the principal's office or being suspended. The authors attribute the lack of findings for girls to the high baseline consistency of altruism with girls' gender roles, suggesting that nurturing and helping among boys is not part of their gender socialization, and may thus have a profound (and more profound) impact on their self-esteem. Research is needed to determine if and when girls' self-esteem may benefit from such helper programs.

Importantly, self-esteem is best conceptualized in terms of various kinds of competence, such as perceptions of self-efficacy in a domain (Bandura, 1977, 1 986; Mischel, 1973). In this sense, a number of different types of competence are associated with Service Learning. As indicated, Service Learning is associated with community leadership abilities in middle and high school (Melchior, 1997), and with competence in doing political work in high school (Hamilton & Zeldin, 1987). It is also associated with personal efficacy in community influence (Eyler et al., 1997) and with political efficacy (Markus et al., 1993) in college.

These data are important because interventions that promote competence among young people have been shown to prevent risky behaviors (Weissberg, Caplan, & Harwood, 1991), defined as drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies, AIDS, delinquency, and school dropout. Of course, not all interventions designed for primary prevention of psychosocial problems among youth are of sufficiently high quality to build competence (Rutter, 1982). Moreover, interventions focusing only on one age range, such as early childhood, will not suffice, because ongoing educational experiences promoting social/behavioral development and competencies are needed throughout development (Zigler & Berman, 1983).

In terms of protecting against risky behavior through Service Learning, the Brandeis study in middle and high schools (Melchior, 1997) collected self-reports of various risky behaviors and obtained some marginally significant findings. Although the effects only approached statistical significance, the study did show a slight decline in teenage pregnancy among participating students relative to controls, as well as a slight decline in delinquent behaviors. These findings suggest that prevention of risky behavior may occur in Service Learning, but the failure of the effect to reach conventional levels of statistical significance suggests that on its own it may not be sufficient to protect against such risky behavior. Instead, it may contribute to such protection primarily when included in programs that target relevant behaviors and competencies.

Importantly, rapidly amassing findings support this specific conclusion, based on the Teen Outreach Program (sponsored by the Association of Junior Leagues International). Teen Outreach integrates Service Learning into a curriculum explicitly directed toward reduction of risky behavior among students in middle school and high school. The program involves young people in volunteer service in their communities, typically at least 4 hours per week, based on a curriculum dealing with human growth, family conflict, and other relevant issues, with active discussion (reflection) invited and encouraged. Seven years of data involving numerous sites and over 6,000 participating and comparison students have shown pre-test/post-test declines among participants, relative to nonparticipants, in teenage pregnancy, school failure, and dropout rates (Philliber & Allen, 1992). Although self-selection into this program poses the usual interpretational difficulties, research controlled statistically for known differences between groups. Moreover, other research has compared sites using random assignment with those allowing self-selection and obtained similar results for both, providing solid evidence that Teen Outreach does protect against these behaviors (Philliber & Allen, 1993). Indeed, the community service component of the program has been shown to account for statistically significant variance in protecting against these behaviors (Allen, Kuperminc, Philliber, & Herre, 1994; Allen, Philliber, & Hoggson, 1990), so it is not simply the targeted curriculum, but the fact that community service is integrated into it that makes the difference.

Research focusing on site factors that contribute to this program's success has yielded provocative, important findings (Allen at al., 1994). That is, considerably more success in protecting against risky behaviors was found at sites that students perceived as promoting their own autonomy and also their sense of connection with others (that is, with peers and facilitators). Although this effect was limited to middle school sites, it is impressive because all sites focused on enhancing both autonomy and relatedness to some extent, "by placing students in a help-giving (as opposed to help-receiving) role" (Allen et al., 1994, p. 614). The special increment in positive outcomes at middle school sites striking this balance especially well is remarkable given the "restricted range" of this variable, which makes statistically significant effects harder to obtain. Such a balance between autonomy and connectedness has been shown to be crucial in reducing school drop out in other kinds of studies (Vallerand, Fortier, & Guay, 1997), presumably because it facilitates internalization ( Deci, 1995; Deci & Ryan, 1986). Indeed, Teen Outreach was a recent award recipient from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Returning to the Brandeis study (Melchior, 1997), an earlier version of it conducted before the one reported here (in 1993-94 versus 1994-95) focused on 13 school-based and community-based sites and used fewer exclusion criteria. The results showed significant pre-test/post-test increases among participating students, relative to controls, in school attendance both in middle school and in high school. Although it is not clear why no such effect emerged in the subsequent Brandeis study, there is once again some evidence that improvement in problem behaviors may be associated with Service Learning. In addition, a study in public schools in Florida (Follman & Muldoon, 1997) showed that 62% of Service Learning sites showed an increase in attendance (with an average increase of 45%), while 20% showed no change and 20% showed decreases in attendance, a pattern that was similar at sites including at-risk youth. Moreover, 68% of Service Learning sites reported a decrease in discipline referrals (and an average decrease of 68%), with 21% showing no change and 11% reporting an increase, a pattern more impressive at sites including at-risk youth. Although inconsistencies in reporting from all sites, the absence of a control group, and no reported tests for statistical significance, limit the conclusions possible, the data suggest that Service Learning is associated with decreases in school-related problem behaviors.

As indicated, evidence shows that Service Learning participation is associated with enhanced community connectedness among college students (Eyler et al., 1997, and this is suggestive that it may protect against risky behaviors (Blum & Rinehart, 1997). It has been persuasively argued that "what seems to matter most for adolescent health is that schools foster an atmosphere in which students feel fairly treated, close to others, and a part of the school. Our adolescent children, both younger and older, stand a better chance of being protected from health risks when they feel connected to their school" (Blum & Rinehart, 1997, p. 24). Research on social networks in school-age children shows that diverse networks (in race, gender, and age) in which large numbers of people provide physical assistance are associated with child adjustment (Sampson et al., 1997). These facts make Service Learning all the more promising. It targets multiple problem behaviors in a comprehensive way, as well as multiple positive youth outcomes, and thus may have more potential to endure in an educational setting than a discrete or categorical intervention targeting a single behavior (Weissberg et al., 1991, p. 837).

Overall, the relative lack of statistically significant effects indicating that Service Learning protects against risky youth behaviors, with the powerful exception of Teen Outreach, suggests that caution is warranted in making broad claims about Service Learning and risky behavior. On the other hand, when its curriculum-basis targets these behaviors, as Teen Outreach does, the evidence is solid.

Improving/supporting academic achievement. The Brandeis study in middle and high schools has s hown that Service Learning is associated with significant improvements in academic achievement (Melchior, 1997). Participating students showed significant improvements in grade point average (GPA) across their core courses (math, science, English, social studies) relative to nonparticipants. They also showed significant pre-test/post-test increases, relative to control students, in their scores on a self-report measure of school engagement, including how happy they feel at school, how much they pay attention in class, and how hard they work in school, as well as on a self-report measure of their educational aspiration (wanting to go to a four-year college). In addition, among participating students 87% reported having learned a new skill that they believed would be valuable in the future, and 75% reported having learned more in the Service Learning class than in their typical classes. Although self-selection issues remain, a clear association with academic achievement exists.

Using tutoring in K-12 education as a precise example of Service Learning, a meta-analytic review of studies on the effects of tutoring--on the tutors themselves--showed modest learning gains in 33 of 38 studies, based on the tutor's own exams in the subject matter (Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982). Tutoring clearly enabled tutors to gain a better understanding of their subject, and oftentimes, to develop more positive attitudes about it as well. The effects were stronger in math than in reading, and when tutors dealt with younger students rather than peers, but the research is clear: tutors do show academic gains. Of course, those tutored also performed better on exams in 45 of 52 studies assessing this. (For related reviews, see Conrad & Hedin, 1989; Alt & Medrich, 1994).

In higher education, the Vanderbilt study did not include academic indices, but the UCLA study did (Astin & Sax, in press-1998; Sax et al., 1996), and its findings are similar to those of the Brandeis study, although the authors take pains to acknowledge difficulties in data interpretation due to a lack of pre-test measures on many indices. Nonetheless, they report significantly higher GPA among participating students than among other students, higher ratings of degree of faculty contact, ratings of aspirations for an advanced degree, and overall scores on a self-report measure of academic self-concept. In addition, in a small-scale study in higher education among students in a mass communication course (Cohen & Kinsey, 1994), participating students showed significantly higher ratings of how much they learned about mass communication than did control students in the same course, and significantly higher ratings of the degree to which they saw class material as relevant to the real world. Hence, there is an association with academic achievement in higher education, even though self-selection remains an issue.

An experiment on with college students, however, able to rule out self-selection factors, showed clear academic gains for students assigned to Service Learning rather than to a control condition, but only when tested on specific facts concerning their placement as related to their curriculum (Hamilton & Zeldin, 1987). This finding highlights the importance of assessing knowledge relevant to service activities. A study involving a legislative internship also showed no greater knowledge as a whole among participating college students, but showed a more nuanced understanding of basic issues (Eyler & Halteman, 1981).

In another experiment in higher education (Markus et al., 1993), again able to rule out self-selection factors through the use of random selection, did in fact show significantly higher grades in the course (in the B+ to A- range) among participating students than among students assigned to a control condition (in the B to B+ range). These students also showed significantly higher ratings in their self-reported belief that they were able to apply what they learned in the course to new situations and in their reports that they had performed up to their potential in the course. The experimental design makes it possible to conclude definitively that Service Learning can produce enhanced academic achievement among college students.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that education reform focused solely on increasing GPA and achievement test scores cannot address some of the most pressing challenges facing youth today. Academic achievement cannot viably be considered the only index of effective education. Advocacy of Service Learning is justified on grounds that extend beyond increases in academic achievement, because even though it clearly supports and may often improve achievement, it is an integrative strategy for achieving multiple, valued ends in youth development, including basic elements of civic education, and character education. Simply put, it is a valuable educational tool that makes academic curricula more relevant and engaging, introduces no achievement decrement, and supports growth and development in ways that prepare youth for the 21st century (Rifkin, 1997). The available findings are provocative and compelling, and they warrant public policy action now in the context of private-public partnerships that promote Service Learning.

E. Voluntary or Required?

Voluntary Service Learning opportunities for students. Research strongly suggests the importance of student autonomy in internalizing values and attitudes based on experience (Deci, 1995; Deci & Ryan, 1986; see also Allen et al., 1994; Vallerand et al., 1997). Hence, Service Learning is best promoted as an option and opportunity for students, by inspiring students to choose to participate because attractive opportunities are available. Making such opportunities widely accessible--for all students at every academic level in every educational institution in the country so that all students can participate throughout development in the context of their education--would be a pervasive change with important, desired consequences.

When Service Learning is voluntary, the onus is on the educational institution and teacher to make the various options exciting enough that students will choose to take part, even students who might not tend to be so inclined, but find the possible activities done with other students compelling. Voluntary Service Learning may make it easier for institutions and educators to fulfill the crucial goal of inviting students to take part in this way. Individual educators and staff provide structure, inspiration, curriculum integration, and reflection opportunities, but it is the students' own motivations that must be engaged, and especially interested educators and staff are best equipped to do this. Hence, there are cogent arguments for making participation voluntary (Wildavsky, 1991; see also Cloud, 1997), although little research exists on differences between voluntary and required Service Learning, and the research that does exist shows few differences (e.g., Allen et al., 1994). Nonetheless, institutionalizing Service Learning--by making available the necessary preparation time and training opportunities for educators and staff, as well as the facilities, vehicles, and so on--is a challenge that may be more feasible when voluntary.

Ideally, educational institutions would make a campus-wide commitment to Service Learning, incorporating it into their overall mission statement, identifying and training interested teachers and professors at each educational level and across fields (subject areas), and thus offering multiple opportunities to students that are viable and appealing. This is pressing enough as a policy challenge without mandatory Service Learning. The crucial task is to do Service Learning well and in widely expanded ways throughout the nation.

The best way to implement Service Learning is by promoting it to students and inspiring them to want to participate. It is a teaching and learning strategy that asks students to be active and engaged in shaping the service they do--in the context of a curriculum--with a "voice" that is heard. Ideally, student autonomy is balanced with connectedness with others, as this is a determining factor in the effectiveness of school interventions for various youth outcomes (Allen et al., 1994; Kuperminc, Allen, & Arthur, 1996; Vallerand et al., 1997 ), and may well override the mandatory/voluntary distinction.

In addition, it is important to emphasize that the voluntary participation of those served is also important in Service Learning. Those served must be free to indicate whether or not they want the service and what, if any, service they believe they might need. If participating students invite those served to describe their needs and resources (and how they might want to partake or contribute), a sense of collaboration can be established. If those served do not value the service, it is not "service." In some cases, of course, a neighborhood that students themselves live in is being improved, in which case the students are the community served. In any event, no one in Service Learning should feel coerced--either those served or those doing the serving.

Of course, beyond the voluntary/mandatory distinction, there are many venues, such as elementary school classrooms or particular required courses in any educational institution, in which the teacher/professor uses Service Learning as a tool for teaching and learning (given the academic freedom to do so). In such cases, Service Learning may be voluntary in the educational institution, but required in the classroom. There is no reason to believe this to be problematic, and good reason to believe it can have beneficial outcomes.

Mandating Service Learning for all students. Debates are ongoing, of course, about Service Learning requirements (e.g., Klie & Steele, 1990; Levison, 1990). When Service Learning is imposed as a mandate, for example, by instituting a graduation requirement of a certain number of community service hours, Service Learning may often be done superbly well--in the sense of a curriculum integration, opportunities for reflection, and support for student autonomy and connectedness. Mandatory Service Learning also has the unparalleled advantage of reaching all students, and thus of having a major transformative impact (Barber, 1991, 1992). Indeed, it has been argued that mandatory Service Learning may have its greatest impact on youth least inclined to participate. A strong case can thus be made for mandatory Service Learning when well-implemented, because civic education, it can be argued, is as necessary as reading, writing, and mathematics in preparing youth to participate in democracy (Barber, 1992). It is a pedagogy that empowers individuals to take responsibility and to work together in ways that make them better able to protect their own liberties, as a lesson in citizenship.

On the other hand, the bare-bones criteria for Service Learning often do not come close to being met when a mere requirement for community service hours for graduation is instituted, even when it is termed "Service Learning" (Cloud, 1997). Little commitment within the institution or among educators to ensure a curriculum integration and reflection opportunities renders the educational value of service requirements questionable, because they are not Service Learning. In such cases, there may also be limited guidance available to students as to the meaning of their service and few (if any) options for fulfilling the service requirement. Hence, if an institution-wide Service Learning requirement is to be effective in student learning and development, it must involve a thoughtful curriculum and meaningful reflection opportunities, and must invite student participation.

A terminology problem may also be relevant to how students and parents respond to prospective Service Learning experiences. The term "community service," especially "mandated community service," is often seen as pejorative and punitive because the criminal justice system so routinely uses it in sentencing convicted criminals. Sentences of "mandated community service" (which alternatively could be termed mandated "reparations") inadvertently equate community service with "punishment" in the public eye. Hence, public affairs efforts to promote and implement Service Learning in K-12 and higher education--whether mandatory or voluntary--must seek to resolve this confusion and lift the stigma.

Overall, Service Learning requirements are best implemented by offering valuable, meaningful service options, and Service Learning courses of sufficient variety to match varied student interests. In this way, a Service Learning requirement can conceivably leave students with enough of a sense of freedom that they choose their service, internalize their actions, and thus come to care about making a difference (e.g., Bierma, 1998; Hines, 1997). Of course, when Service Learning is an institutional requirement, it may be a lot to ask that all students have such high quality experiences, but this should be the aim. Required or voluntary, poorly implemented Service Learning is not likely to be effective. And even if well-implemented, a potential downside of mandatory Service Learning should be carefully guarded against--that some students still feel "forced" to participate, and show their displeasure enough to taint the experience for other students, or in the worst case, unwittingly even harm those served in some way (e.g., young children, nursing home residents, the homeless).

To guard against any student (or parent) feeling coerced about a Service Learning requirement, students should, of course, be permitted to opt out of a requirement for an alternative assignment (in consultation with his or her parents and teacher). Well-implement Service Learning, however, actively involves students in efforts to define community needs and engages them in activ e decision-making relevant to service within their curriculum. Thus, it not likely to evoke an outcry against "government-coerced servitude" or other unwanted interference in students' lives. When well-implemented, then, the opt-out possibility in a Service Learning requirement, should rarely be chosen, even though it should be available.

In sum, students in K-12 and higher education should be offered the opportunity to participate in Service-Learning throughout their education. The aim of this proposal is to make Service Learning available in every grade or educational level within every K-12 school and institution of higher education in the country. To make Service-Learning an integral part of the curriculum, available as an option, much work needs to be done. The support of school districts and principals, deans and presidents, must be solicited, so that they are sufficiently motivated to do their own solicitation of participation from interested teachers, professors, and staff who can then inspire students to take part. Service Learning emphasizes real-world, hands-on learning that is interesting, challenging, and fun, and when it is presented as such, students want to participate.

F. National Campaign to Promote Service Learning

The decision to adopt Service Learning clearly must be made locally. Nonetheless, a national campaign is needed to inspire superintendents, principals/deans, teachers/professors, administrators, and staff to adopt it as part of the overall process of teaching and learning at their institution. A coordinated promotion nationally and regionally is thus needed (including at the grassroots level, Kincely, 1996), along with targeted funding in private-public partnerships (e.g., Sigmon, 1996), especially to enable schools to have equity across socioeconomic divides. Increased funding is clearly needed for such a promotion in K-12 and higher education, so that the qualities and assets of Service Learning become well known. Widespread understanding of the practices of Service Learning and its advantages would both begin an important national conversation on service in education and increase its prevalence--if coupled with increased technical assistance for teachers, professors, and staff. As indicated, distributing definitional guidelines widely does not necessitate entering the national standards debate on this new topic because Service Learning is not linked with national testing. Definitional guidelines should be distributed to schools and school districts, colleges and universities, and even directly to teachers and professors. In addition, poorer school districts face many pressing challenges that may make Service Learning seem less of a priority, in spite of its value for a variety of outcomes among at-risk students, including academic outcomes. Hence, it must be promoted widely across socioeconomic and other divides, along with increasing the seed funding available to cover the costs of training and technical assistance for professional development for teachers and staff. Such training is usually offered on a fee-for-service basis and is thus less available to poor schools districts.

Service Learning brings students together to work toward shared aims and empowers them to take action in making a difference in their communities--in the context of a curriculum. As school reform, it tends to flourish when fully integrated in a given classroom or even in an educational institution as a whole, rather than as a less well-integrated add-on. The best examples of school reform involve the whole school and its governance, making it important to consider how best to integrate Service Learning into the culture of an entire school and its atmosphere (Braun, 1996; Furco, 1996). In any event, experimenting with block scheduling can also facilitate Service Learning because meaningful service is more feasible with more time during the school day. Of course, such dramatic systemic change is not crucial even if service is done during the school day, and it can certainly be done after school. The present argument is that each educational institution should offer at least one Service Learning opportunity per grade or academic level, for example, one teacher/professor at each level or in each subject/discipline, with some infusion into the atmosphere and spirit of the institution.

Making this a reality in schools, colleges, and universities will require concerted, directed actions--to promote interest in the value of Service Learning in K-12 and higher education, and in community-based organizations as well, to increase seed funding for professional development and technical assistance, and to enhance strategic planning to make ongoing Service Learning self-sustaining. Partnerships between K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, in particular, can help enable sustainability--with cycles of Service Learning undergraduates and K-12 students in some of the same service, in cross-age teams, where feasible, supporting each other in collaboration. Partnerships are also needed between educational institutions and community-based organizations. Of course, service activities must always be appropriately matched to students' age, developmental abilities, interests, and experience, and the appropriate training and supervision for particular service tasks is needed, along with logistical, liability, and accountability support.

"Formal" and "informal" Service Learning. The curriculum integration and reflection com ponents of Service Learning can be conducted "formally" within a school and its curriculum (e.g., within a class or classes), or "informally" within a community-based organization, as indicated, and emphasized within existing guidelines (see ASLER, 1993). In "formal" Service Learning, the process is coordinated entirely by the school and integrated into the curriculum of a given classroom, or even into the curriculum and atmosphere of the whole school, thus contributing to education reform efforts beyond simply offering Service Learning. "Informal" Service Learning is coordinated independently of schools, which offer both the curriculum integration and reflection components, along with the service opportunities, monitoring, supervision, and encouragement (Cairns & Kielsmeier, 1995; Furco, 1994). Youth service organizations have great expertise in youth service as compared with teachers professors who are more familiar with classroom teaching. Capacity-building is needed in encouraging teachers/professors to utilize Service Learning as a tool for teaching and learning. But both "informal" and "formal" Service Learning warrant promotion, support, and assistance.

Partnerships. In making Service Learning possible, both K-12 schools and institutions of higher education can partner with community-based organizations (see Applebome, 1997; Rifkin, 1996; Sigmon, 1994). Because "informal" Service Learning in community-based organizations typically is not connected with educational institutions, except through extracurricular clubs, the full power of youth as engines of community renewal and as people demonstrating civic engagement in action remains untapped. Collaboration between schools and community-based organizations could maximize the number of students offered Service Learning opportunities, because if a school were to guide students "formally" into activities at community-based organizations, and were to "formalize" such experiences for students, far more youth would participate. If community-based organizations can gear up to supervise greater numbers of volunteers, more students can do "informal" Service Learning, based on the guidance of their educational institutions.

Of course, full integration of Service Learning into a curriculum at the school would not be mutually exclusive with partnering with a local community-based organization. Moreover, academic institutions can take responsibility for the curriculum and reflection components without going so far as integrating service into a traditional course, such as in math or history or psychology. Rather, it can be offered as a "field work" course designed to appeal to students' desire to learn through action in the world, through service. This places less stress on teachers/professors to change ongoing teaching styles, although many argue that teaching styles should change. Still, a "field work" or "internship" course (with curriculum and reflection) may be easier to implement, and it takes the burden off community-based organizations just as well as Service Learning in a traditional course.

Unsurprisingly, there is the worry that this kind of relationship between educational institutions and community-based organizations could lead to a glut of youth volunteers in community-based organizations (Gose, 1997). Planning, monitoring, and a systematic collaboration between the school and the community-based organization can prevent this, however. If schools were to provide much of the relevant orientation for newly serving students to prepare them to enter the site, and perhaps organize other aspects of the partnership (such as its curriculum), this can lift burdens from community-based organizations. Scaling-up programs at community-based organizations so that more cross-age volunteers can effectively participate and more wide-ranging populations can be served is feasible with the right planning (Schorr, 1997). There is little doubt that funding and private-public partnerships would be needed to make it work. But community-based organizations offering Service Learning are plentiful, and schools, colleges, and universities can do more to find systematic ways to collaborate with them, furthering the work of these organizations, and their own educational missions as well.

In another form of partnership, noted briefly, colleges and universities can partner with local K-12 schools to facilitate Service Learning among K-12 students (see Harkavy, in press). In theory, such partnering can help engage K-12 students in Service Learning because established activities that college and university students are doing can be shared with teachers and administrators in K-12 schools, partnering with K-12 teachers to help them to use such activities in their curriculum. College students can be role models for service, help organize activities, and provide adult supervision under some circumstances, making it more feasible for K-12 schools to incorporate Service Learning into their overall educational mission. Of course, expert assistance is needed to help set up the institutional structures to permit K-12 schools to collaborate with higher education. In particular, supportive principals and dedicated teachers must be identified, and a teacher-specialist in Service Learning as well, to provide credible guidance and professional development (Root, 1994; Silcox, 1998). These are important steps in establishing the infrastructure for Service Learning, and also for collaboration.

Seed funding. The holy grail of community development is seed funding provided to local initiatives-- grassroots individuals, groups, and organizations--building on existing capacities so that sustainable development is achieved (Henton et al., 1997; Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993). Within such a model, there is a role for inspiring interest within a community or a school, for example, as capacity-building for an initiative, even when there is little capacity or interest immediately evident. For this reason, a campaign to promote the value of Service Learning, both nationally and locally, is warranted--highlighting its outcomes, its definitions, and how it is done. In support of that, funding will also be needed to respond to increasing demand for professional development in Service Learning based on a successful promotional effort, and for technical assistance as well. Hence, expanded private-public partnerships will thus be needed to promote and implement Service Learning on a more widespread basis nationally. Sensibly, much of what the Corporation for National Service funds is modeled along the lines of private-public partnerships. That is, AmeriCorps members are partnered with existing local community organizations in charge of service activities and fiscally invested in the member. Expanded funding is thus needed for AmeriCorps (and AmeriCorps-VISTA), which can work to facilitate Service Learning. Clearly more funding is needed for Learn and Serve America, which directly supports Service Learning nationally.

Private-public partnerships and seed funding. The best Service Learning--and the best community service of any stripe--focuses on capacity-building in communities for reasons of sustainability (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993). Sustainability in Service Learning applies not only to the broad effects of the service on the community--to improve the community--but also to the initiative itself, which can and hopefully will become self-sustaining. This way, youth continually have the opportunity to serve, even as (or if) conditions improve in the community, making a particular service no longer needed. Sustainability in both senses can be ensured by strong private-public partnerships and systematic collaborations.

For example, one way to have an effective private-public partnership is to identify existing organizations that do (or could) sponsor AmeriCorps members in working to facilitate Service Learning in K-12 and higher education. Selecting a set of AmeriCorps members whose express challenge it is to assist in developing and enhancing Service Learning within K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, or within community-based organizations, would be fruitful. AmeriCorps members could then work to develop "formal" and "informal" Service Learning initiatives in a targeted use of federal resources. Special attention is needed to create private-public partnerships--with contributions from community groups--that will develop the necessary infrastructure in educational institutions for Service Learning. The best way to set the stage for AmeriCorps members' presence in an educational institution is to first solicit the support of the principal (or dean or president), who can then solicit/inspire participation from interested teachers/professors at each grade or educational level, and can identify a competent and credible Service-Learning coordinator in the system (e.g., a respected teacher/professor) who has time and salary allotted to this work. It is a process that can cross crucial hurdles for AmeriCorps members in advance of their placement. Soliciting support from principals/deans, teachers/professors, and staff is crucial.

On another level, the national spotlight was turned last year to the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, highlighting youth, youth service, grassroots efforts, and volunteerism. The event provided grist for a national conversation about service and youth. Goal 5 of the Summit is to provide all young people with the opportunity to serve. At this stage, the nonprofit organization, America's Promise, which emerged from the Summit, is dedicated to furthering its five goals, and is committed to Service Learning as one avenue for Goal 5 (Powell, 1997), making America's Promise a potential partner.

Service Learning is a concept whose time has come. Numerous national organizations and coalitions are pursuing initiatives concerned with Service Learning, including Campus Opportunity Outreach League (COOL), Campus Compact, the Education Commission of the States, the K-12 Compact, the Partnering Initiative on Education in Civil Society, and still others, along with America's Promise. At the federal level, the Corporation for National Service supports Learn & Serve America, which funds Service Learning in K-12 and higher educational (and in community-based organizations) nationally. It also supports AmeriCorps and the Senior Service Corps. Both of the latter could be directed in part toward facilitating Service Learning. Also at the federal level, the Department of Education can support Service Learning through Goal 5 of Goals 2000, which addresses citizenship education, and through the Improving America's Schools Act. The Act enables support for Service Learning under Title I, which connects academic learning to real-world or career education, Title IV for Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Title IC for migrant education, and Title IX for Indian education (in building on local culture). Service Learning can also be supported in the charter school movement. Finally, the Department of Education funds character education efforts, and these efforts can readily involve Service Learning.

Again at the federal level, there are two national mentoring/tutoring initiatives that would flourish with increases in seed funding for Service Learning. America Reads makes funding available for college work study students, AmeriCorps members, and others, to help young children learn to read before the end of the third grade. An initiative in technology literacy has also been proposed to make sure all youth achieve the computer literacy necessary to function effectively in contemporary society. Tutoring reading and tutoring in computer skills can each be Service Learning, at all levels. Prevalent concerns about education in mathematics and a new federal initiative, may make the time ripe for math tutoring as well.

In sum, building on available structures, assistance at the national level can be generated for creating the private-public partnerships necessary in building capacity for Service Learning--in every grade or academic level in every educational institution in the country.

Guidelines for quality. Guidelines for Service Learning in K-12 and higher education exist. Since 1993, the Standards of Quality for School-Based and Community-Based Service-Learning have been the state-of-the-art guidelines, as issued by the Alliance of Service-Learning in Educational Reform (ASLER, 1993). These guidelines build on the Wingspread Special Report, Principles of Good Practice for Combining Service with Learning (Honnet & Poulsen, 1989). Although there are many important elements, both in ASLER and in Wingspread, and also in recent summary-definitions issued by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Corporation for National Service (CNS), agreement exists on four basics, as indicated, and beyond this there is much variability. A tentative listing of standards in Service Learning is offered in the next table, highlighting the four basics. Perfect overlap between the entire set of definitions and any initiative is unnecessary. These guidelines are simply guideposts to strive toward that focus the basics (the first four in the list, which are shared by all), and highlight some others (selectively adapted from the various lists) to be considered as well.


A Précis of Current Standards of Quality in Service-Learning

in K-12 and Higher Education*


· meets actual community needs (with a small or large scope as defined by students' age and experience), that is, needs that the community and those served have identified and agree need to be addressed

· is integrated into a relevant, thoughtfully organized curriculum, enhancing that curriculum, whether in a school or in a community-based organization, and involves both academic and skill-learning in pre paration for the service

· is accompanied by structured opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences--to think, write in journals, and talk in small, informal groups characterized by respect and constructive problem- solving, both about the service experience, and about personal feelings, revealing commonalities and differences that are respected among students

· involves students as active participants and is shaped by students' "voice," so that students are empowered in decision-making, come up with their own ideas, and organize services, in a framework support ed by teachers and staff

· includes diversity, where possible, both among Service Learning participants (in their work teams and reflection groups) and in those served, and whether or not such diversity is achieved, highlights sen sitivity to and respect for cultural and other differences

· includes attention to fostering a sense of caring, civic responsibility, respect for human dignity, and the ethic of service--elements of character and civic education

· regularly assesses Service Learning impacts to guide improvement


*For a one-page summary of the ASLER, Wingspread, CCSSO, and CNS guidelines, respectively, see Appendix I,

where each guideline selected for the present listing is checked []

This summarizes existing standards, as Service Learning continues to evolve, refined by experience. A process for updating existing guidelines, ongoing for some time, will yield a new revision in the Wingspread and ASLER series (in 1998; Pam Toole, National Youth Leadership Council, personal communication, 1997; see also Dugan, 1997). Nonetheless, the guidelines in Table 1 are likely to survive, with some refinements.

Guidelines for assessing effectiveness. The simplest strategy for determining whether or not Service Learning is effectively implemented is to ask a set of straightforward questions: Does the service address a real need? Is it integrated into a curriculum? Is it accompanied by reflection? And is it shaped in part by student planning and leadership? A "yes" to all of these questions puts the initiative on firm footing (for a similar method, see Melchior, 1997). On the other hand, new implementation guidelines for Service Learning--again to be issued by the National Youth Leadership Council in 1998--will specify a more complex procedure (Toole, 1997). To calibrate exactly how well each standard is implemented a rubric can be used for determining an acceptable, good, or high quality implementation for each standard (see Dugan, 1997; Toole, 1997). An elaborate standards-of-quality assessment of this kind adds precision to a quality-of-implementation assessment based simply on determining dichotomously whether or not the four main components of Service Learning are present.

The importance of effective implementation is indicated by the fact that some of the best research has suggested that positive effects of Service Learning may be more prevalent when it meets minimal standards (Melchior, 1997). Hence, widespread distribution of Service Learning guidelines describing its central elements and how to gauge effective implementation will help practitioners do Service Learning well.

Of course, knowing how well Service Learning is implemented is a far cry from program evaluation for the purposes of accountability and a far cry from meaningful, generalizable research on the effects of Service Learning; it is only a first step. Both in-house evaluation work and more elaborate research studies need to gauge implementation if it is to be clear that it is Service Learning that is being examined (see Bradley, 1996; Cunningham, 1996; Kavaloski, 1997; Purdy, 1996; Stephens, 1995; Toole, 1997; Waterman, 1997). But there is also a world of difference between program evaluation and well-controlled research that seeks to draw general conclusions. Individual teachers, professors, and staff are unlikely to be interested in doing elaborate research studies (or to have the expertise), and yet some evaluation is likely to be necessary and also valuable for students as "action research" to help indicate if a change in practices is needed (e.g., Kavaloski, 1997; Waterman, 1997).

To evaluate Service Learning efforts, schools are likely to need help in establishing low-cost, ongoing evaluation procedures as part of routine monitoring. In addition, engaging students in the evaluation of their own service efforts as "action research" can have special meaning for students, because they can then see the fruits of their labor, better understand the problems addressed, and use the collected information to consider how they might improve upon their work. In this respect, it is crucial that evaluation efforts are not only focused on the impact of Service Learning on students, but also on its impact on the community and on those served. Unfortunately, community impact is usually assessed largely in terms of "bean counts"--the number of service hours logged. Such measures are relevant, but subtler measures are needed tapping the degree to which services were effective. In addition, capacity-building impacts of any kind in the community, in which those served becoming better empowered to help themselves, are worth assessing (e.g., a learner in a tutoring program who now has a new skill). (For more on evaluation, see Bradley, 1996; Kielsmeier, 1997; Melchior & Bailis, 1996.)

Beyond program evaluation, a large-scale behavioral-science research agenda will also continue to be needed in Service Learning. It is of the essence that we further increase knowledge about when Service Learning is likely to work best when it works well, precisely why these effects occur when they do (based on what mediating mechanisms), and precisely for what outcomes. It is worth noting as well that research is needed both on ongoing initiatives and on basic processes relevant to Service Learning.

Addressing assessment from a different standpoint, neither program evaluation nor more generalizable research speaks to the question of how to assess student achievement in Service Learning courses. In this regard, some have argued that what is learned in such experiences is difficult to evaluate because it does come simply from taking notes on a lecture, reading a book, or studying for an exam. The implication is that the effects for individual students may be subtle and nuanced (e.g., Conrad & Hedin, 1989). New skills learned and concrete competencies gained are likely to be specific, for example, involving the capacity to apply knowledge and also higher-order problem-solving, rather than rote memory (Eyler & Halteman, 1981; Hamilton & Zeldin, 1987; see also Silcox, 1993). This may mean that relevant academic achievements for participating students may be rather more difficult to tap. Hence, support is needed to provide helpful hints for teachers, professors, and staff about how to develop indices of what is learned in Service Learning that are sensitive to actual learning (such as student portfolios that document learning). Ideally, precise learning objectives are spelled out in preparation for service activities and the academic assessment indices relevant both to the service and to the curriculum are used.

Issues in implementation. Because Service Learning can catalyze pivotal changes related to both character and civic education, educators may be inclined to gear their curriculum explicitly toward these issues, such as respect for others and social responsibility, a sense of caring and connection, community engagement, and so on, within a wide range of possible curricula.

To take a particular example, the aim of civic education is to foster competent and responsible citizenship based on an understanding of rights and responsibilities, privacy and social values, and history, public affairs, and intellectual skills to think critically about civic and political life (e.g., Etzioni, 1993; Quigley, 1997). Hence, the overall impact of Service Learning on civic attitudes might be maximized by incorporating service directly into a civic education curriculum, involving formal instruction in political affairs and government (although a social action model of civic education is not the only possible model). In addition, it is in fact possible to increase such citizenship values as social responsibility by integrating service into English or math or other courses (Fellows, 1995; Jacoby et al., 1996; Stephens, 1995). Service Learning courses foster civic values by encouraging students to take direct social action on social problems they have helped to identify and define, engaging with their communities enough to be able to do this, and in so doing, gaining direct experience with participatory democracy.

Of course, if a school does not embody basic "civic values such as civility, respect for the rights of others, recognition of human dignity, and constitutional processes, like adherence to due process of law," these values are not likely to be internalized by students (Quigley, 1997, p. 6). The implicit curriculum of a school can either support or undermine the explicit curriculum into which service and reflection are integrated. Schools teach democracy best by modeling democracy (Becker & Couto, 1996; Gerson, 1997), and Service Learning is best implemented when it emphasizes open communication, mutual respect, civility, a search for shared values, and collaboration between students, teachers, staff, and those served. If such a democratic atmosphere does not exist in the school, then teachers will need to take up the challenge on their own, one classroom at a time.

Similarly, it could be argued that Service Learning should best facilitate character education--such as social connectedness and perspective-taking--when the service is integrated into an explicit character education curriculum that highlights virtuous character traits, such as respect and responsibility (e.g., Lickona, 1991), or still others, such as kindness and compassion, honesty, loyalty, fairness, justice, and human rights (Moody & McKay, 1993; see also Lewis, 1998). Discussing particular values people might manifest in action before participating in a relevant service would exemplify this approach, whether or not the curriculum is focused explicitly on character education. When preparing students in this way in advance of the service, what is likely to matter most is that students have enough autonomy in deciding possible values to address and observe that the values make sense to them (and their families) and they are able to internalize the experience (e.g., Deci, 1995).

Virtues are best "discovered" by students for themselves in serving and reflecting. And again, the discovery process can take place in any number of courses, and can focus on any number of virtues, in for example, talking about how it feels to work toward social justice, to be of service and to care, advancing the ethic of service and the ethic of caring. Reflection after the service experience might also include discussion of broader "virtues" such as empathy and perspective-taking, as well as acceptance and honoring of diversity, respect for human dignity, and so on. Again, it is likely to matter less whether particular virtues are explicitly raised in advance of service, and more exactly how these virtues or ethics are raised, so that students freely participate. Of course, students' academic preparation for the service must be substantive and sufficient, and should include specific learning objectives (LaPlante & Kinsley, 1994; Stephens, 1995), even while open discourse is encouraged and students feel they are thinking about and grasping things for themselves.

Overall, Service Learning is best integrated fully into how a teacher or professor teaches or even into an entire school atmosphere, so that it becomes intimately a part of education. In the absence of this, of course, it is once again one classroom and one teacher at a time.

G. Conclusion

Service Learning brings youth together to make a difference by working toward shared goals, along with teachers, staff, community members, and those served, across various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic divides. An extensive review of the research demonstrates that it is associated with civic engagement, the ethic of service, civic attitudes, social connectedness, acceptance of diversity, academic achievement, and in some cases, even reduction of risky behavior. These outcomes imply a stronger "sense of community" and thus heightened social capital among youth--matters of demonstrable significance in adolescent development, based on large-scale behavioral science research (Blum & Rinehart, 1997) and of great value in communitarian thought as well (e.g., Bellah et al., 1985; Etzioni, 1993). Overall, Service Learning fosters youth development, in terms of important aspects of character and civic education (see also Berman et al., 1997).

Service Learning fosters civic education as thoroughly as character education, and can even provide education for democracy (Barber & Battistoni, 1993; Barber, 1984, 1992). It offers teachable moments for citizenship, such as respecting the rights of others, showing social responsibility, negotiating, and resolving conflicts (Berman, 1990; Brandell & Hinck, 1997; Clark, 1993; Coles, 1993; Schine & Halsted). When students work together democratically to reach decisions about how to assess the needs and resources of the community, then do the assessment, decide on an action plan, and follow through with it, they learn the value of teamwork directed toward a common good (see Cairn & Kielsmeier, 1995; Lewis, 1991). They learn how to be active, to reach beyond themselves, and to take action. They have a "voice" in the process, collaborate with others who also have "voice," are engaged, and experience the workings of civil society and participatory democracy first hand.

Service Learning is also a strategy that addresses the opportunities available to youth, in this case, the opportunity to serve, as well as the relationships (both instrumental and caring) available to them--their social capital (e.g., Briggs, 1997). It has its impact on youth by changing the opportunity structures available to them in their schools and communities--in terms of relationships with adults and peers, and is thus an integrative strategy for youth development in communitarian form (cf. Etzioni, 1983).

Of course, youth development, character education, and civic education are complicated and challenging, especially when considered in the context of prejudice, hatred, and violence, and other antisocial behavior, that plague many American communities. None of these ills will be solved with a magic bullet. Socioeconomic factors, neighborhood resources, housing, and family relations, are all part of the complex social ecology that youth must navigate daily (e.g., Connell et al., 1995) and will be the context in which Service Learning is experienced when implemented in neighborhoods and schools. Nonetheless, it can help build community, and bring youth together with each other and with adults in collaboration, in relationships across the boundaries.

Importantly, there is now growing evidence that Service Learning can serve as an integrative strategy for achieving multiple, valued aims in youth development in the context of education. This position paper characterizes the need for Service Learning, its definitions, and its various forms, and presents an extensive review of the empirical literature. It considers the voluntary/mandatory debate and suggests a coordinated national strategy for promoting and funding Service Learning more widely in private-public partnerships.

There are Service Learning initiatives around that country that have been shown to work, and we can learn from these "best practices" so as to replicate them elsewhere (Schorr, 1997). The pitfalls to be avoided in attempting to "replicate" excellent practices from one setting to another, and even in expanding the reach of the practices in a given setting, are well-captured by the watch words of flexibility and sensitivity to context differences. When carefully honored, these challenges can be overcome in scaling-up best practices, given sufficient time and fiscal investment. Although the "bible" of best practice examples in Service Learning has yet to be fully compiled, such efforts are ongoing for K-12 education by the National Youth Leadership Council (Toole, 1997; although see Urke & Wegner, 1993) and for colleges and universities by the American Association of Higher Education. In the meantime, numerous curriculum examples are available, as noted. In the end, support is needed for distributing definitional guidelines and best-practice examples widely--to teachers, professors, principals, deans, schools, school districts, colleges, and universities.

The evidence suggests that it is time to take action at the national level to promote Service Learning and make it available to more young people throughout their development--for their good, for the good of their education, and for the good of our communities. The time is now.



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Appendix I (a)

The ASLER Guidelines
Adapted from the Standards of Quality for Service Learning
Alliance for Service-Learning in Educational Reform, 1995


1. Integrates Service with Academic Learning

2. Teaches New Skills and New Thinking so as to Build New Competencies

3. Involves a Reflection Component as well as Sufficient Preparation

4. Takes Place in an Atmosphere in which Service is Recognized

5. Incorporates the "Voice" of Students in Planning/Organizing

6. Makes a Real Contribution to the Community

7. Assesses this Real Contribution in the Community along with Other Effects

8. Connects the School and Sponsoring Organization in New Ways

9. Is Supported as Integral to the School and to the Community Organization

10. Involves Skilled Adult Guidance/Mentoring

11. Involves Relevant Pre-Service Training and Staff Development


Appendix I (b)

The Wingspread Guidelines
Principles of Good Practice for Combining Service and Learning:
A Wingspread Report
Honnet & Poulsen, 1989
Racine, WI: Johnson Foundation


1. Engages people in responsible and challenging actions for the common good

2. Provides structured opportunities for reflecting critically on service experiences

3. Articulates clear service and learning goals for everyone involved

4. Allows for those with needs to define those needs

5. Clarifies the responsibilities of each person and organization involved

6. Matches service providers and service needs (recognizing changing circumstances)

7. Expects genuine, active, and sustained organizational commitment

8. Includes training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognition, and evaluation

9. Ensures flexible, appropriate time commitments in the best interests of all

10. Is committed to participation by and with diverse populations


Appendix I (c)

The CCSSO Guidelines
Provided by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993
Boston, 1997
Service Learning: What it offers to students, schools, and communities
Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers


1. Enables participants to learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service conducted to meet community needs

2. Is coordinated within K-12 or higher education or within a community-based organization

3. Helps to foster civic responsibility

4. Is integrated into and enhances curriculum or educational component

5. Provides structured time for reflection on the service experience


Appendix I (d)

The CNS Guidelines
Provided for School-Coordinated Service Learning
Corporation for National Service
Prepared by RMC Research Corporation, 1997
Denver, Colorado


1. Enables participants to learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service conducted to meet community needs in collaboration with the s chool and community

2. Is integrated into the academic curriculum and provides structured time for reflection (thinking, talking, writing about the service experience)

3. Provides opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations in the community

4. Enhances what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom and thereby helping to foster the development of a sense of caring fo r others

5. Is supported by regular assessment to provide feedback and guide improvement


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