A Critical Evaluation of the Service Learning Experience: Implications for Higher Education

Publication Title

The Journal of Learning in Higher Education

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Document Type



evaluation, service learning, higher education


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Education | Higher Education | Marketing | Other Business


Much has been written regarding the merits of service learning being integrated into higher education course content. While reviews of the service learning literature suggest that favorable outcomes extend beyond the student and include faculty, colleges/universities, and/or the community, few studies have explored possible negative student perceptions and outcomes of these experiences (c.f., Kezar and Rhoads 2001). The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine student views of service learning before and after engaging in a service learning course experience. The results provide both positive and negative outcomes from the students’ perspective, as well as nonsignificant results where significant service learning outcomes were expected. The results highlight the complex nature of assessing service learning outcomes and the importance and role of faculty members in managing these student experiences.