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Catherine Marienau


The academic benefits and enhanced social responsibility that students derive from service-learning (SL), defined as experiential learning that ties community service to academic courses, have been well documented. However, for a college to fully institutionalize SL, a high proportion of faculty needs to include SL in their courses. Based in Kolb's experiential learning theory, the purpose of this study was to enhance planners' understanding of how college faculty's past experiences assigning SL influence their inclination to assign SL in future courses. In this basic qualitative interpretive study, data were collected from 13 individual interviews with faculty who assigned SL at a Southern metropolitan university. Findings were interpreted using Chickering's 7 vectors of student development from the conceptual framework and other relevant perspectives from the literature. One of the major themes from emergent coding of data was that faculty viewed some difficulties as challenges to be overcome rather than as deterrents to using SL. To reduce deterrents, institutions could compensate for extra time required for SL by providing stipends, released time, and support databases; recognizing SL in tenure and promotion; and helping faculty brainstorm how to incorporate SL into courses. To increase incentives to use SL, institutions could provide a full range of training and support for faculty. More courses with SL, besides increasing benefits of SL for all stakeholders, may mean that students form the habit of serving in the community and continue serving and contributing to positive social change, perhaps for a lifetime.

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