Service-learning holds great potential for allowing students to play a key role in developing ethical programs and projects that provide benefits for communities as well. The article from the University of Utah discuss the role of service-learning in enabling young students to develop a high school project aimed at improving the community's environmental health, emphasizing community health impacts, public awareness, and policy recommendations to promote change. Drake University scholars describe a project that helps graduate students to investigate the impacts of "digital citizenship" in a service-learning laboratory. International contexts for engaging students in service-learning are discussed in the articles from Georgia and Pace. The authors from these institutions describe the process of developing intentional, integrated programs of studies in the international context. Their papers describe the transformational model, with improved learning outcomes and positive impacts for student participants.
Finally, some of the potential problems associated with service-learning are defined and described from both sides of the debate by Whitfield. Her paper reminds the reader that service-learning does not always yield the "win-win" consequences that its advocates and supporters have described and documented in many institutions. She reminds the reader that there are important dimensions of the service-learning experience that must be taken into account, including careful planning and formative assessment of the process, to achieve the intended outcomes. While Carlan and Rubin's project in south Texas, for example, resulted in more caring teacher education students, the process of re-examining their own previously held assumptions and re-constructing their attitudes and beliefs were key elements in that transformational process. Campana's article takes this careful planning and attention to the re-examination of college students' role in the process even further. She highlights the mutuality of the interaction by describing an interactive lesson as an example of how theater can be used to teach academic or social subjects. As the university students gain valuable information about drama and pedagogy from the fourth grades, they also learn a valuable lesson about the mutuality of this event, and understand that they are not the only ones providing in important service.
Another AEQ special issue on service-learning in higher education will appear again in the spring of 2006. I encourage readers to join the growing number of scholars and practitioners from around the nation who are implementing this innovative approach to teaching and learning in a wide variety of contexts, documenting the processes and impacts and disseminating their findings with others in this public forum.
Judith H. Munter, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research, College of Education, University of Texas at El Paso