Lovat and Clement (2016) examined multiple meta-analyses regarding values pedagogy, a type of pedagogy characterized by teaching and learning opportunities that encourage community involvement while providing students service opportunities within the greater community (Lovat, Dally, Clement, & Toomer, 2011), and the potential for values pedagogy to enhance all aspects of the learning environment. Empirical findings from the Australian Values Education Program suggested that one of the most powerful aspects of values pedagogy is in service learning.
In addition to broad educational benefits of implementing values pedagogy such as personal, moral, social, and civic development with service learning, there is also neuroscientific evidence linking service learning to the development of social intelligence. Scientists largely agree that the development of social intelligence is essential for cognitive and emotional development, because without one element present, neither of the three can be properly realized.
Evidence also suggests that service learning as part of values pedagogy can lead to the breaking down of cultural barriers as well as leading to the growth of positive relationships with those outside of one’s social circle. This intercultural learning helps promote values such as intercultural sensitivity and competence in young adults.
Lastly, in order for service learning to effectively create change in young learners, reflection must play a critical role, resulting in the development of empathic understanding and building transformative and critical thinking skills. Reflection is beneficial whether written on done through discussion.
As a social studies educator, service learning is incredibly important to effect real change on my students. With the information from Lovat and Clement (2016) in mind, I need to actively work towards implementing more service learning projects in my courses throughout the entirety of the school year.
Does the depth and breadth of the service learning effect the desired student outcomes?
How can a teacher implement service learning throughout the entirety of their course while also focusing on learning standards that are important for state tests?
Are there any studies that re-examine the effect of service learning and civic responsibility five, ten, or fifteen years after the individuals have graduated from high school?
Lovat, T., & Clement, N. (2016). Service Learning as Holistic Values Pedagogy. Journal Of Experiential Education, 39(2), 115-129. doi:10.1177/1053825916628548
Lovat, T., Dally, K., Clement, N., & Toomey, R. (2011). Values pedagogy and student
achievement: Contemporary research evidence. Dordrecht, NL: Springer.
Tom Lombardi is a social studies teacher and earning his Masters in School Administration. Follow Tom on Twitter: @tlombardi.