SLCE and Student Learning

Content Overview

  1. The Impact of SLCE
  2. Recommended Readings


Does SLCE have a measurable impact on student learning?

Participating in service-learning and community engagement (SLCE) has benefits for students that decades of research supports. Some of these benefits include:

  • Increased scholarly and professional skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, oral and written communication, reflection, and effective teamwork (Ash, Clayton, & Atkinson, 2005; Jameson, Clayton, & Bringle, 2008; Pinzón & Arceo, 2005; Sedlak, Doheny, Panthofer, & Anaya, 2003).
  • Deeper understanding of course material and its connection to real-world issues (Eyler and Giles, 1999; Novak, Markey, and Allen, 2007).
  • Increased awareness of the complexity of social problems and challenges faced by communities (Hirschinger-Blank & Markowitz, 2006).
  • Development of metacognitive and critical self-reflection skills (Downing, Kwong, Chan, Lam, & Downing, 2009).

For full citations, please check out the section below, Readings on SLCE, and for a detailed glossary of SLCE-related terms and concepts, please check here.


Also remember that if you affiliate with SLS, you may be asked to administer a survey to your students which will solicit substantive feedback from them about SLCE in their course.  SLS will share those results with you if you wish, which are useful for a teaching portfolio and for your own course-crafting process!


For more, please check out the resources in the Assessment Section of the Teaching Toolkit.


Readings on SLCE

Ash, S. L., Clayton, P. H., & Atkinson, M. P. (2005). “Integrating Reflection and Assessment to Capture and Improve Student Learning.” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 11(2), 49-60.


Astin, A. W., Vogelgesang, L. J., Ikeda, E. K., & Yee, J. A. (2000, January). How Service Learning Affects Students. Los Angeles, CA: Higher Education Research Institute, University of California.


Downing, K., Kwong, T., Chan, S. W., Lam, T.F., & Downing, W.K. (2009). “Problem-Based Learning and the Development of Metacognition.” Higher Education, 57, 609-621.


Eyler, J. S., & Giles, D. E., Jr. (1999). Where’s the Learning in Service Learning? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Hirschinger-Blank, N. & Markowitz, M. W. (2006). “An Evaluation of a Pilot Service-Learning Course for Criminal Justice Undergraduate Students.” Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 17(1), 69-86.


Hutchings, P. (2010, April). “Opening Doors to Faculty Involvement in Assessment.” National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from


Jameson, J. K., Clayton, P. H., & Bringle, R. G. (2008). “Investigating Student Learning Within and Across Linked Service Learning Courses.” In M. A. Bowdon, S. H. Billig, & B. A. Holland (Eds.), Scholarship for Sustaining Service Learning and Civic Engagement (pp. 3-27). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


Novak, J. M., Markey, V., & Allen, M. (2007). “Evaluating Cognitive Outcomes of Service Learning in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis.” Communication Research Reports, 24(2), 149-157.


Pinzón, D. P., & Arceo, F. D. B. (2005). “Critical Thinking in a Higher Education Service Learning Program.” In K. M. Casey, G. Davison, S. H. Billig, & N. C. Springer (Eds.), Research to Transform the Field (pp. 89-110). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.


Prentice, Mary, and Gail Robinson. "Linking Service Learning and Civic Engagement in Community College Students." American Association of Community Colleges (2007).


Sedlak, C. A., Doheny, M. O., Panthofer, N., & Anaya, E. (2003). “Critical Thinking in Students’

Service Learning Experiences.” College Teaching51(3), 99-103.


Steinke, P., & Fitch, P. (2007). “Assessing Service Learning.” Research and Practice in Assessment, 1(2), 1-8. Retrieved from