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ERIC Number: EJ798694
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-1052-2891
Does Service Learning Promote Adult Development? Theoretical Perspectives and Directions for Research
Smith, M. Cecil
New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, n118 p5-15 Sum 2008
Service learning is one of the most pervasive education innovations of the past generation and has demonstrated much success in connecting schooling with community service. Service learning is designed to be integrated into, and enhance, the academic curriculum. It is believed, and there is growing evidence to show, that participation in service learning can foster civic responsibility on the part of children, youth, and college students. Also, a number of investigations have shown positive academic benefits for child, youth, and college service learning participants. In fact, participation in service learning as part of a college course has been found to have more positive benefits for students than does participating in typical volunteer community service. What about those nontraditional college students who are older adult learners? Does participation in service learning afford any benefits to these individuals, in terms of greater community participation, altruism, academic performance and skill development, personal growth, or leadership ability? This article considers service learning outcomes in three domains of adult development: (1) cognitive growth, in terms of adults' ability to think in more complex ways and to consider a variety of perspectives; (2) moral development, in terms of individuals developing an ethic of care (in other words, the ability to balance care of the self with the care of others); and (3) psychosocial development, in terms of generativity (adults' ability to support and nurture the succeeding generation). It also discusses implications from three theoretical models: (1) Robert Kegan's constructive-developmental theory of adult meaning making (1994); (2) Carol Gilligan's care perspective on moral development (1982); and (3) Erik Erikson's psychosocial perspective on generativity in middle adulthood (1982). Finally, suggestions for research on the impact of service learning in adult development are offered. (Contains 1 table.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A