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Making Meaning from Experiential Education: Reflection and Service-Learning. Jan Shoemaker Director, Louisiana State University Service-Learning Program What is your experience with the community?. Your interaction with community? What did you learn from that?

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Making meaning from experiential education reflection and service learning

Making Meaning from Experiential Education:Reflection and Service-Learning

Jan Shoemaker

Director, Louisiana State University

Service-Learning Program

What is your experience with the community
What is your experience with the community?

  • Your interaction with community?

  • What did you learn from that?

  • Hint: You just did some reflection.

Key question
Key Question

How can we design reflective activities that most effectively accomplish the learning goals of our course?


  • To learn what reflection is and is not

  • To understand its importance to Service-Learning

  • To examine the principles of effective reflection

  • To learn some effective reflection activities and strategies

  • To understand how reflection and assessment overlap

Reflection is not
Reflection Is Not……

  • Not just sitting on a log and meditating

  • Not just something done privately

  • Not just at end of project or course

  • Not just for students

What is reflection

Examination and interpretation of experience

Process by which students think critically about experience

Analyzing concepts, evaluating experience, postulating theory

Putting facts, ideas, experiences together to derive new meaning

What is Reflection?

Reflection essential part of service learning definition
Reflection: Essential Part of Service-Learning Definition

“A course-based credit bearing educational

experience in which students ….

  • participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and

  • reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.”

    Bringle and Hatcher 99

Reflection connects civic and academic goals

Service Learning

Pure Service Pure Learning

Reflection Connects Civic and Academic Goals

Reflection can accomplish academic and civic goals

Course-specific skills and knowledge

Critical thinking skills

Problem Solving skills

Learning how to learn ( active learning, application, collaboration,etc.)

Citizenship and social responsibility

Respect for diversity

Leadership skills

Understanding root causes of social problems

Ethical issues connected with discipline

Howard 01

Reflection Can Accomplish Academic and Civic Goals

Effective reflection will bringle and hatcher 99
Effective reflection will:Bringle and Hatcher 99

1. Clearly link the service experiences to the course content and learning objectives.

Effective reflection will
Effective reflection will:

2.  Be structured in terms of description, expectations, and the criteria for assessing the activity.

Effective reflection will1
Effective reflection will:

3. Occur regularly during the semester so that students can practice reflection and develop the capacity to engage in deeper and broader reflection.

Effective reflection will2
Effective reflection will:

4. Provide feedback from the instructor about at least some of the reflection activities so that students learn how to improve their critical analysis and develop from reflective practice.

Effective reflection will3
Effective reflection will:

5. Include the opportunity for students to explore, clarify, and alter their values.

Reflection activities and strategies eyler et al 96
Reflection Activities and StrategiesEyler, 96

  • Written Exercises

  • Literature and Reading Assignments

  • Projects and Activities

  • Oral and Electronic Exercises and Discussions

Written exercises lsu example
Written Exercises: LSU Example

Drama class journal entry: What does your experience say about the role of drama in community? Does the play you wrote and produced for the school children shape the audience or does audience shape the play?

Literature and reading assignments lsu example
Literature and Reading Assignments: LSU Example

Biological Engineering: Students read Barbara Kingsolver essays on human effects on environment and related them to similar issues connected with playgrounds they designed and built.

Oral exercises and discussions lsu example
Oral Exercises and Discussions: LSU Example

Technical Writing: Students presented their grant proposal to representatives of their agency and a potential funding foundation.

The proposal won a $50, 000 grant to build a playground for the Children’s Development Center.

Making meaning from experiential education reflection and service learning

Projects and Activities: LSU ExampleArchitecture students get feedback from community members after creating a development plan and a web site for community organizations to facilitate community development and communication.

Tips for using reflection as assessment
Tips for Using Reflection as Assessment

  • Establish benchmarks.

  • Provide for formative; not just summative assessment.

  • Provide credit for learning; not just for service.

  • Link reflection to learning goals in syllabus.

  • Clearly articulate criteria (rubrics).

  • Provide students opportunities to assess their own personal goals.

  • Assess the project (community needs and partnership).

  • Assess the course (learning goals).

  • Assess collaborative learning.

  • Include all the stakeholders.

Other important issues for reflection
Other Important Issues for Reflection

  • Preparation for service

  • Diversity and Culture

  • Risk management

  • Closure

How can i learn more
How can I learn more?

Bringle, Robert G. and Julie A. Hatcher. “Reflection in Service-Learning: Making Meaning of Experience.” Educational Horizons. Summer 1999. 179-185.

Campus Compact. Click “Resources”

Eyler, Janet A Practitioner’s Guide to Reflection in Service-Learning. Nashville: Vanderbilt, 1996.

Howard, Jeffery. Ed. Service-learning Course Design Workbook. U. of Michigan: OCSL Press, 2001.

LSU Service-Learning Program.www.cas.lsu.eduClick “Service-Learning” and “Faculty Resources” for Faculty Manual and links.

Let s reflect assess now
Let’s Reflect/Assess Now

  • What have you realized during this process?

  • What reflective processes do you plan to use?

  • What was most helpful?

  • What was least helpful?

  • What would you like to know more about? (contact