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High-Impact Features

Service-learning has been identified as a high-impact teaching/learning practice. High-impact practices tend to share certain features that promote student learning and engagement (Kuh, 2008). The specific servicelearning assignment described above is a strong example of a high-impact practice. This can be demonstrated by highlighting some of the high- impact features found in this assignment.

Students Spend Considerable Time on Meaningful Tasks

Success on this service-learning assignment demands that students spend considerable time on the project. The assignment is a multi-part project with a duration of approximately three-fourths of the semester. Students spend some time in class, and a great deal of time outside of class, working with their teammates on this project. A successful project is likely to require six to eight outside-of-class team meetings over the course of the semester. Students also spend substantial time conducting research, writing, preparing materials, and implementing the project with the client group. The time students spend on this project is not spent on “busy work,” but on meaningful tasks. The steps within the project build on one another. Each is necessary to produce the completed final project. What makes these tasks truly meaningful, though, is the fact that students are developing an activity that will be used by a real client group, often a group of people who have some substantial identified need (e.g., victims of domestic violence, children in poverty, pregnant/parenting teens, etc.). This increases student motivation and engagement in the assignment, leading to more substantial and deeper learning.

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