Student Development and Service-Learning: A Three-Phased Model for Course Design

Carrie Williams Howe, Kimberly Coleman, Kelly Hamshaw, Katherine Westdijk


Many key resources in service-learning literature offer tools and advice to faculty members for designing effective service-learning courses; these materials typically focus on integrating service-learning effectively into a syllabus, fostering reciprocal partnerships, and using reflection to analyze experience.  In addition, a number of research studies have explored the impact of participation in service-learning on student development outcomes.  However, very few resources “flip” this equation—that is, there is less information in the literature on how student development theory can inform the effective design of service-learning courses and curricula.  This article utilizes an extensive review of student/adult development and learning theory to propose a three-phased model for service-learning course design.  Informed by the authors’ experiences working with faculty members and departments, the article provides examples illustrating the potential impact of this approach for individual courses or sequential curricula.

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