The main idea of service learning is that students provide service to non-profit organizations in the community and in turn have the opportunity for a meaningful learning experience. The potential for students lies in the development of their professional and personal abilities, leading to an enhanced self-concept and self-efficacy. For the charitable organization the potential is to get new ideas and support for their given problems (Godfrey, Illes & Berry 2005). In the last two decades, a growing number of universities have implemented service learning as an educational approach to foster their students’ development (Kenworthy-U’Ren 2008). Some of them scaffold the courses with evaluation studies or other surveys. Nevertheless, the existing empirical studies on the effect of service learning have focused rather on specific learner outcomes than on the dynamics between the instructional design of a service learning course and its effects. Therefore, this study was conducted in order to investigate the effects of service learning on motivational aspects in correspondence to its didactical design. We basically intended to address two major groups of research questions:
(1) What effects have service learning courses on the motivation and development of students? More specifically we examined in this context the motivational aspects (Nicholls 1984) (mastery vs. achievement goal orientation) and their mediation to self-efficacy.
(2) We aimed at specifying the role of the instructional design of a service learning course for the individual course of motivation. In detail, we analysed the instructional design elements (instructional phases, counseling phases and reflection phases) of a given service learning course and their connection to the motivational feeling of the students.
In service learning courses, students generally participate in a service activity that corresponds to a community and charitable needs. The reflection of this activity fosters a deeper understanding of the academic content as well as of the students’ values and attitudes towards civic responsibility (Bringle & Clayton 2012). Taking this into account, service learning is a dual process including an execution of the working process in the service activity by a non-profit organization (service process) and an acquirement of skills, as well as personal insights (learning process) (Dewey 1966, Gerholz & Losch 2015).
Meta-analyses on the impact of service learning have revealed that academic skills, for instance critical thinking or problem-solving skills, can be promoted via service learning. Also they have shown that the increase in self-efficacy and a change in self-concept are higher than in non-service learning courses (Conway et al. 2009, Celio et al. 2011, Yorio & Ye 2012,). Beyond, it has been shown that service learning can foster an understanding of social issues and the willingness to be engaged in the society (Burns 2011, Celio et al. 2011, Yorio & Ye 2012). The existing meta-studies have focused on general learning outcomes (e.g. academic skills), and have shown that within these general outcomes, different effects can be observed (e.g. Reinders 2016, Conway et al. 2009). Especially the motivational aspect seems to be different in a course of service learning. However, the relationship between the effects of service learning and the instructional design elements in a given service learning course were not conducted. Therefore, the present study explores the instructional link between the service activity and the impact of the service learning course on the motivational development and change in self-efficacy of the students.
Bringle, R. G. & Clayton, P. H. (2012). Civic Education through Service Learning: What, How, and Why?. In L. McIlrath, A. Lyons & R. Munck (Eds.), Higher Education and Civic Engagement. Comparative Perspectives (pp. 101-123), New York. Dewey, J. (1966). Democarcy and education. New York: Free press (Original published 1916). Conway, J.M. et al. (2009). Teaching and learning in the social context: A meta-analysis of service learning’s effects on academic, personal, social and citizenship outcomes. Teaching of psychology, 36(4). 233-245. Gerholz, K.-H. & Losch, S. (2015): Can service learning foster a social responsibility among students? – A didactical analysis and empirical case-study in business education at a German university. In: O’Riordan, L., Heinemann, S. & Zmuda, P. (Eds.), New Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility: Locating the Missing Link, 602-622. Godfrey, P. C., Illes, L. M. & Berry, G. R. (2005). Creating Breadth in Business Education trough Service-Learning. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(3), 309–323. Kenworthy-U'Ren, A. L. & Peterson T. O. (2005). Service-Learning and Management Education. Introducing the "WE CARE" Approach. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(3), 272–277. Spinath, B. & Schöne, C. (2003). Subjektive Überzeugungen zu Bedingungen von Erfolg in Lern- und Leistungskontexten und deren Erfassung. In J. Stiensmeier-Pelster & F. Rheinberg (Hrsg.), Diagnostik von Motivation und Selbstkonzept (S. 15-27). Göttingen: Hogrefe. Yorio, P. L. & Ye, F. (2012). A Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Service-Learning on the Social, Personal, and Cognitive Outcames of Learning. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(1), 9–27.
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