Service-Learning as an Independent Course: Merits, Challenges, and Ways Forward

Carol Hok Ka Ma, Dawn Fei Yin Lo


In Hong Kong, service-learning is commonly regarded as a pedagogy for facilitating students’ learning of specific subject knowledge; rarely does it serve as an independent course focusing on developing students’ knowledge and skills of service-learning itself.  At Lingnan University, however, the Office of Service-Learning offers an independent, credit-bearing service-learning course outside of other academic departments. The course aims to equip students with knowledge, skills, and attitudes about service-learning and to prepare them for future engagement in service activities within communities. This article reports on a case study of this independent service-learning course, with particular emphasis on the course development process. Assessment and evaluation data from students are also reported, followed by a discussion of the merits and challenges of implementing such a course, and a consideration of ways forward. The authors argue that the lessons learned from this study can help to inform the design of independent service-learning courses specifically and improve the quality of service-learning courses and programs in higher education in general.


course development; credit-bearing service-learning course; student learning outcomes

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