Layering Small Group Dynamic and Service-Learning Pedagogies: Weaving Curricular Strategies to Strengthen Outcomes


  • Tamar Anna Alexanian University of Michigan Law School
  • Leigh Gilchrist Vanderbilt University


Service-learning literature regularly recommends small group activities as a learning tool but rarely examines the use of a broader application of a small group dynamics framework into a service-learning course. In this research, we explore the integration of small group dynamics frameworks into a service-learning classroom; this pedagogical layering enhances the desired outcomes of service-learning. This intentional layering aims to reinvigorate research and practice in the areas of curricular design, theoretical framing, and pedagogical approaches.

Keywords: Theoretical framing, integrating pedagogies, curricular design, service-learning classrooms, small group dynamics

Author Biographies

Tamar Anna Alexanian, University of Michigan Law School

Tamar A. Alexanian is a third-year student at the University of Michigan Law School where she has dedicated herself to legal aid and public interest work. Prior to law school, she graduated from Vanderbilt University (2016), served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan, and served as an AmeriCorps member in Chicago.

Leigh Gilchrist, Vanderbilt University

Leigh Z. Gilchrist is an Associate Professor and serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Human and Organizational Development (HOD) in the HOD Department at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Her research examines the impact of service-learning and community engagement on student development, community partnerships, and teaching practices within the context of Higher Education and K-12. She incorporates service-learning and community engagement into her teaching and service and views the campus and broader communities as vital components to her professional identity.