Service Learning

Imploring institutions of higher education to move beyond problematic dualities (intellect over experience, work over play, passivity over activity, knowledge over vocation, and individuals rather than community), Dewey’s (1916) philosophy of education promoted experiential education as a solution, suggesting a holistic educational approach that engages students’ mind, body, and spirit, as part of an intertwined knowledge and experience based learning process.  Building on Dewey’s work, Kolb and Fry (1975) and Kolb (1984) presented a model of experiential learning, combining concrete experience with abstract conceptualization as part of a simultaneous process of reflection and action that further integrates the cognitive and socio-emotional components of learning (Bruening, et al., 2010).


Husky Sport, as part of the larger campus-community partnership, provides students with a structured opportunity for community engagement matched with an academic curriculum that combines to facilitate a rigorous experiential learning process, otherwise known as Service Learning. Bringle and Hatcher (1996) define service learning as “a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and then reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility” (p. 222.). Furthermore, the outcomes of service learning are strongest when “meaningful service activities are related to course material through reflection activities such as directed writings, small group discussions, and class presentations” (Bringle & Hatcher, 1996, p. 222.). Husky Sport works to collaborate with campus-community partners and participants to develop areas of the organization’s planning, orientation, training, supervision, and evaluation in order to produce positive outcomes (Bringle & Hatcher, 2002).

Properly developed and effectively managed service learning organizations/courses have been found to;

  • Co-develop identified needs of community partners that match with desired student learning objectives
  • Develop reciprocal relationships, as part of a shared learning process, that avoids savior-mentality approach
  • Create positive social impacts on beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes among participants
  • Provide enriching academic experiences that enhance critical thinking skills among students
  • Enhance student cultural competency
  • Build diverse networks for exchange of social capital
  • Increase student attitudes, behaviors, and intended behaviors associated with social justice

Citations: (Dewey, 1916; Kolb and Fry, 1975; Kolb; 1984; Bringle & Hatcher, 1996; Bringle & Hatcher, 2002; Bruening, et al., 2010; Conway, Amel, & Gerwien, 2009; Peters, 2011; Enfield & Collins, 2008; Bruening, et al., 2014; Fuller, et al., 2015)