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Service Learning. Reflection. Janet Eyler Vanderbilt University. Kolb’s Model of Learning. WHAT?. Concrete Experience. Reflective Observation. ACTION. REFLECTION. Active Experimentation. Abstract Conceptualization. NOW WHAT?. SO WHAT?.

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Service learning

Service Learning


Janet Eyler

Vanderbilt University

Kolb s model of learning
Kolb’s Model of Learning


Concrete Experience

Reflective Observation



Active Experimentation

Abstract Conceptualization



Service learning

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.

- George Orwell

  • We do not learn from doing, we learn from thinking about what we do.

  • Northwest Service Academy

  • Experience is not what happens to people; it is what people do with

  • what happened to them.

    • - Aldous Huxley

Reflection is not simply ‘learning in the raw’ but making what

you learn make sense.

-Bruner 1996

Goals of reflection
Goals of Reflection struggle.

  • For Students:

    • Exploring impressions and feelings

    • Deep understanding of academic content; connecting theory with service

    • Applying learning to practice -- transfer

    • Challenging assumptions/ transforming perspectives

    • Stimulating cognitive development/ problem solving

    • Becoming self-aware -- metacognition

  • For Faculty and HE Student Affairs Pros:

    • Becoming reflective practitioners

Kolb model as scaffolding for designing reflection activities
Kolb Model as Scaffolding for Designing Reflection Activities

  • Can begin cycle at any point

  • Can use with in class experiences as well as field experience

  • Students can apply to their own reflective activities

Eyler reflecting on service

Applying kolb to s l reflection
Applying Kolb to S-L Reflection Activities

  • Teacher led discussion

  • Student led discussion

  • Journal structure

  • Team presentations

  • Essay structure

  • S-L theater

Eyler reflecting on service

Research findings program quality matters
Research Findings: ActivitiesProgram Quality Matters



  • Application of Content

  • Placement quality

  • Reflection

    • Writing

    • Discussion

  • Community Voice

  • Diversity

  • Duration/Intensity

Effective reflection based on research interviews with students
Effective Reflection ActivitiesBased on Research Interviews with Students

  • Continuous

  • Connected

  • Challenging

  • Contextualized

Eyler reflecting on service

Your reflection map
Your Reflection Map Activities

From: Eyler, J. (2001). Creating your reflection map. In M. Canada (Ed.) Service-learning: Practical advice and models. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

New Directions for Higher Education Series # 114, 35-43

Planning reflection
Planning Reflection Activities

Compare experience

with expectations

Synthesis assign.

Kolb cycle paper

Letter to self

Draw expectation






Case study


Mixed Group


S-L Theater

Class presentation

Lessons learned

Plan project

Asset mapping


On site debrief

Supervisor feedback

Present project

Explore impact