Educating engaged citizens through service: Innovative models for reflection and dialogue
McCunney, W. Dennis; Linz Dickinson, Megan; Harrison, Christina; Farley, Megan
Community service, accompanied by regular, guided reflection, provides a highly effective tool for engaging students in democratic practices within their communities (Astin, 1998; Kolb, 1984; Kuh, 1995). Community service programs must include components that develop greater identification with the community, promote civil dialogue and critical thought, and teach communication skills. Reflection practices can teach students about a range of social issues and also deepen their understanding of the common good. Engagement in the community through service provides an ideal vehicle for sparking conversation about previously unexamined concepts of self in relation to society, and the notion of a common good that weaves through the tapestry of society. After a yearlong process that included a literature review, examination of models implemented at other universities, and self‐evaluation of education and reflection practices, staff from the Center for Community Service and Justice developed an innovative model designed to raise the quality of and participation in structured reflection sessions proceeding and following co‐curricular community service experiences. The new model is structured around three key components ‐‐Commitment, Training, and Curriculum ‐‐that address both the weaknesses of the previous model and further the goals of experiential education. To assess the effectiveness of the new model in accomplishing the goals for reflection, qualitative and quantitative data have been collected and evaluated for both student participants and student leaders.