Assessing Learning in Service-Learning Courses Through Critical Reflection

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The purpose of this study was to describe and examine a model for assessing student learning through reflection in service-learning courses. This model utilized a course-embedded process to frame, facilitate, support, and assess students’ depth of learning and critical thinking. Student reflection products in two service-learning courses (a freshman course and an upper-level course) at a public university were examined at two times for depth of academic, personal, and civic learning and for level of critical thinking. Depth of learning and levels of critical thinking between freshmen and upperclassmen were compared. Results suggest that the model and associated rubrics were useful in documenting student learning. Students could identify, describe, and apply their learning. They had difficulty, however, evaluating their learning and thinking critically. There was some enhancement in depth of learning and critical thinking over time with upperclassmen achieving greater depth of learning and higher levels of critical thinking in some areas. Findings indicate that the model is a rigorous tool that can be used to document and assess student learning in service-learning courses.



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