Both-and, not either-or: Knowledge and service-learning

Maureen Casile, Kristine F. Hoover, Deborah A. O'Neil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to expand the understanding of outcomes of service-learning/community engagement. The current study explored the efficacy of service-learning as a pedagogical tool to support content mastery by undergraduates in a management class. Design/methodology/approach: The study involved a classroom experiment with 120 students randomly assigned to complete a service-learning or a research project as a class requirement. Data regarding mastery of course content was collected through a multiple-choice assessment at the end of the course, and analyzed using statistical methods. Findings: Results showed that service-learning can be a better mechanism for student mastery of course concepts than a traditional research project. However, the benefits of service-learning appeared to accrue disproportionately to women. Research limitations/implications: Results suggest that educators should incorporate service-learning into their classrooms to enhance content mastery, and that future research should examine the specific elements of service-learning that contribute to both female and male students' learning. The findings are limited to traditional undergraduate students in a face-to-face management course. Originality/value: This research study directly addresses some of the tensions between service-learning/student-community engagement and traditional university education. Service-learning has been shown to support student development of socially valuable outcomes. Inclusion of service-learning in college curricula can be particularly challenging, when a desire for ethical development must be balanced with course content mastery. According to the findings of the current study, service-learning produces both service to the community and service to the students, as an effective pedagogical tool for content mastery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalEducation and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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