An exploration of the impact of a service-learning programme in two school communities.
Humphries, Hilton Richard.
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Research in the area of service-learning has been steadily growing over the past decade, with an interest in the benefits for all parties involved in its implementation. However, research into the impact that service learning has on the community has been severely under-researched remaining practically absent from the service-learning research agenda. This qualitative study attempted to gain in-depth knowledge on the impact of service learning on two school communities. The research made use of participatory research techniques as they allow the researcher to access the ‘community voice’ and ‘hand over’ the research process. As the focus groups involved children, participatory techniques were used to elicit information regarding what element of the service-learning programme affected the learner’s experiences of participating in the service-learning programme. Ranking activity was the participatory technique used (Theis and Grady, 1991). The study had interesting results relating to what elements affect the community experience of service-learning programmes. Main findings include student characteristics, relationship development and how the students gain from service-learning. It gained insight into many areas that require further study relating to community experiences, and illustrates the complexity that characterises the community experience.