For the Winter 2020 issue of this journal, we are pleased to feature two project reports and a research article that explore the impact of service learning on students, faculty, and civic engagement.
In a study of teacher leadership, David Devraj Kumar and Sharon Moffitt, both from Florida Atlantic University, examined how a service learning opportunity influenced the development of leadership qualities in a cohort of students who were training to be K-12 STEM teachers. Analyzing the self-reflections of the service-learning participants revealed an increase in their depth of scientific content knowledge, together with greater self-confidence in their capacity to communicate scientific ideas. This pilot study provides the foundation for future research into the connections between leadership skills, classroom capabilities, and student learning.
In another example of service learning, Paula Kay Lazrus and a team of colleagues from St. John’s University describe the creation of a Faculty Learning Community that encompassed first-year courses in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Scientific Inquiry. Students in these courses participated in a service project to build solar phone chargers for a school in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Positive outcomes from the project include enhanced collaboration among the faculty and a sense of institutional belonging among the students since their service project is aligned with the St. John’s University mission statement.
What is the impact of a service learning curriculum on environmental awareness? This question is investigated in a research article by Daniel A. Mendoza and a team of colleagues from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, George Washington University, and Creighton University. The study focused on a population of non-science majors, providing them with a service learning module and informational lectures by climate scientists. Student surveys revealed an increased understanding of climate change and plastic pollution as urgent environmental concerns. The authors note that developing the civic engagement of non-science majors, who are the majority of college graduates, is particularly important for generating informed citizens.
We wish to thank all the manuscript authors for sharing their scholarly work with the readers of this journal.
Matt Fisher and Trace Jordan