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Experiential Learning & Teaching in Higher Education

Abstract

Service-Learning is a form of experiential education and a teaching tool that can both enhance student learning outcomes and contribute to community goals. When this type of learning intersects with social justice education, or liberatory education, different types of student outcomes may arise; specifically, those contributing to the development of social and critical consciousness. In this thought piece on praxis, we conduct a content analysis of multiple first- and second- year service-learning courses to determine if there is an observable difference in the development of student social consciousness and commitment as it pertains to the extent to which justice is explicitly stated as a learning outcome, as well as what opportunities are present to make linkages between course content, experiential learning, and social justice through course activities and reflection. Our findings indicate that by problematizing our use of “social justice” as one-size-fits-all, we can better practice a customized approach to justice-related processes and outcomes that are tailored to the students and external partners within experiential education opportunities, the knowledge with which the experience connects, and to the facilitator/educator’s orientation toward this work.

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