I recently read an article in the Journal of Higher Education published in 2009 titled "Engaging with Difference Matters: Longitudinal College Outcomes of 25 Co-Curricular Service-Learning Programs." Among the findings that Keen and Hall reported was evidence that reflective writing guided by staff input added value to student learning during a formal service learning experience.
The program studied is one sponsored by the Bonner Foundation and the study measured the impact of a service learning program in a cocurricular setting. At Penn State, a service learning task force is soon likely to define 'service learning' as only possible within the context of the curriculum in a formal, classroom setting, but this study shows that a well-structured co-curricular setting can be effective as well.It is noted in the article that service learning is often defined as having a curricular setting:
The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (2005) defined service-learning as a "...teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities."
But the authors go on to point out the proven value of constructing service learning experiences in out-of-class settings as well:
A frequent tendency in the field is to use the phrase service-learning and assume the reference is to academic service-learning based in coursework. Giles and Eyler's (1999) seminal study of programs that linked academic study with service acknowledged the value of co-curricular learning and, in defining service-learning, also mentioned "non-course-based programs that include a reflective component and learning goals" (p. 5).
For more see: