Service-Learning and Educating in Challenging Contexts
Service-Learning and Educating in Challenging Contexts

Timothy Murphy

Timothy Murphy is Lecturer in Educational Research and Policy at the University of Limerick, Ireland. He is on the Board of Advisors at the International Center for Service-Learning in Teacher Education (ICSLTE). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and Jon E C Tan

Jon E. C. Tan is Senior Lecturer in the School of Education and Childhood at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Continuum, 2012


Content Type:

Book chapter

Education Level:

Higher Education



Related Content

Service-Learning in the Australian Values Education Program

DOI: 10.5040/9781350091238.ch-011
Page Range: 199–216


Service-Learning has been a constant feature of the various projects that have functioned under the umbrella of the National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools (DEST, 2005). In the two-stage project titled Values Education Good Practice Schools Project (DEST, 2006 and DEEWR 2008), involving 312 schools in 51 clusters, several clusters focused specifically on Service-Learning as their prime values pedagogy. In the major evaluation project, Project to Test and Measure the Impact of Values Education on Student Effects and School Ambience (Lovat et al., 2009b), involving both quantitative and qualitative methodology, Service-Learning was shown to be a particularly effective means of maximizing the impact of values pedagogy on all aspects of student achievement. This chapter will briefly explore the thinking that lay behind the Australian programme, the generalized results of its projects and the place of Service-Learning as an essential element within it.


This chapter will provide an overview of the major stages of development of the Australian Values Education Program and the various research and practice projects that emanated from it. It will illustrate, through reference to these, how Service-Learning came to be seen as a particularly vital force in the achievement of the goals of the programme. It will then focus on the findings, anecdotal and empirical, that highlight the Service-Learning component, including through the formal evaluation (Lovat et al., 2009b). The chapter will show the development of thought and evidential trail that led to Service-Learning being defined by one of the project reports in the following way:

Service-learning is a pedagogy that aids the development of young people as they learn to engage in the worlds of others and then participate in civic service. It is a form of experiential learning which is integrally related to values education, and helps young people to empathise, engage and take their place as civic-minded, responsible, caring and empowered citizens in our community. (DEEWR, 2008, p. 34)

Values Education Study

Since the early 1990s, each state and territory education system in Australia has been actively promoting its system and teachers as inculcators of the essential values that define being Australian and being a global citizen. The Australian government placed its seal on the development through its ‘Civics Expert Group’ report (DEETYA, 1994). It is now commonly accepted that an essential component of public education’s responsibilities is to be found in the work of inculcating values in its students. In short, public education is now defined as a comprehensive educator, including being an inculcator of personal morality and cohesive citizenry. Furthermore, curricula related to civics, citizenship and values education have been designed and trialled in a variety of forms, both free-standing and integrated into mainstream syllabuses.

The Australian government report, Values Education Study (DEST, 2003), represented an important step in this process. The report’s Executive Summary asserted that values education ‘refers to any explicit and/or implicit school-based activity to promote student understanding and knowledge of values [and] to inculcate the skills and dispositions of students so they can enact particular values as individuals and as members of the wider community’ (p. 2). The study consisted of 50 funded projects designed in part to serve as the case study data for the report. While these projects differed markedly from each other and functioned across all systems of education, most of them had in common a focus on practical behaviour change and social outreach as tangible outcomes.

The government report was initially endorsed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), a group that represents all state and territory education ministers in association with the federal minister. At the meeting that endorsed its terms of reference, MCEETYA noted the following:

  • that education is as much about building character as it is about equipping students with specific skills;

  • that values-based education can strengthen students’ self-esteem, optimism and commitment to personal fulfilment; and help students exercise ethical judgement and social responsibility;

  • that parents expect schools to help students understand and develop personal and social responsibilities (DEST, 2003, p. 10).

The preamble to the draft principles, which was developed as a result of the study, stated explicitly that ‘schools are not value-free or value-neutral zones of social and educational engagement’ (DEST, 2003, p. 12). Among the draft principles was one that spoke of values education as part of the explicit charter of schooling, rather than in any way incidental to its goals. It also made it clear that values education is not designed merely as an intellectual exercise but is aimed at changing behaviour by promoting care, respect and cooperation. Through the report, the fullness of the potential positive effects of values education became evident for the first time, including its capacity to enhance students’ sense of their place in the world and their responsibilities to their wider communities. Teacher testimony cited in the report spoke of values education impacting on student welfare; social justice; community service; human rights; intercultural awareness; environmental sustainability; mutual respect; cohesion and peace; social, emotional and behavioural well-being; building communities; student resilience; student engagement; student self-management and building a learning community (Lovat, 2009; Lovat et al., 2010a). The modern agenda of values education as a means of instilling comprehensive forms of student engagement was opened up by the nature and direction of the report, a feature that was then built on in the National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools (DEST, 2005).

The National Framework

In the 2004 federal budget, $A29.7 million dollars was allocated to build and develop a national values education programme, guided by the National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools (DEST, 2005). The Framework’s guiding principles were explicitly connected with the charter for schooling explicated by federal, state and territory ministers in the National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty First Century (MCEETYA, 1999), the so-called ‘Adelaide Declaration’. The Adelaide Declaration represented a marked shift in educational philosophy as it had progressed in the later part of the twentieth century. The declaration effectively challenged the instrumentalist and reductionist tendencies of much educational research of the second half of the twentieth century and a range of late twentieth century reports that had tended to narrow the goals of schooling around job and career preparation, with similarly narrow perspectives on the kinds of competencies and outcomes required of effective learning. In contrast, the declaration was explicit about the comprehensive role that schools should play in matters of personal integrity and the development of citizenship: ‘schooling provides a foundation for young Australians’ intellectual, physical, social, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development’ (MCEETYA, 1999).

The Framework built on the broad perspectives offered by the Adelaide Declaration in making the specific link with values education as a means of facilitating its lofty and comprehensive goals for schooling. It spoke of values-based education as a way of addressing some of the social, emotional, moral, spiritual and aesthetic developmental issues that schooling tends to neglect. Specifically, it stated that such education has potential to strengthen students’ optimism, self-esteem, sense of personal fulfilment, ethical judgement and social responsibility. The Framework rationale made explicit reference to the language of quality teaching as both supporting and being enhanced by values education. This led to the proposition that values education and quality teaching comprised a nexus, referred to thereafter as a ‘double helix effect’ (Lovat and Toomey, 2009), that sees the learning that characterizes quality teaching (intellectual depth, communicative competence, empathic character, self-reflection) more readily and easily achieved in the learning ambience created by values education. Furthermore, the comprehensive reach of the Framework offered the conceptual grounding for the later insight that the impact of values education on quality teaching was most palpable in those sites that incorporated into their pedagogy an intentional and well-crafted Service-Learning programme. Hence, we would come to describe the interface of values education, quality teaching and Service-Learning as a ‘troika’ working together in the interests of student well-being (Lovat et al., 2009a).

The ‘Troika’ of Values Education, Quality Teaching and Service-Learning

Since the early 1990s, there has been a concentration of effort aimed at maximizing student achievement in school education and rectifying the debilitating effects of failure. In 1994, a Carnegie Corporation Taskforce on Student Achievement (Carnegie Corporation, 1996) drew on new research in a variety of fields, including the emerging ‘new neurosciences’ (Bruer, 1999), to refute the narrow assumptions and findings of conventional educational research and to assert that effective learning requires a response that is as much about affect and sociality as about cognition. Indeed, increasingly, elements of neuroscience are suggesting that affect and sociality (sociability, social development) are inherently part and parcel of the entity we describe as ‘cognition’. In so doing, the Carnegie report redefined learning to incorporate into the notion of ‘intellectual depth’ matters of communicative competence, empathic character and self-reflection as being at least as significant to learning as the indisputably important technical skills of recall, description, analysis and synthesis. The report represented a watershed moment that, in many respects, marked the beginnings of a new era of thought about schooling’s potential to impact on matters of personal integrity and the social engagement of its students.

The Carnegie report illustrated well in its rhetoric that effective learning is inherently values-filled, that it entails a pedagogical imperative that social, emotional, spiritual and moral aspects of human development must be incorporated in any meaningful notion of intellectual depth. Herein, a values approach to learning is seen to be an indispensable adjunct to any learning environment if student well-being, including their meaningful social engagement, is to be maximized. As Carnegie postulated, the nurturing of empathic character is a foundational characteristic of effective learning. Without it, learning is impaired. For Carnegie, this was the real reason that failure was such a common feature of American schooling. It was not so much to do with native intelligence or with matters of social disadvantage. It was that the assumptions of educational systems were based on a deprived understanding of intelligence and the consequent pedagogical practices of their teachers were therefore founded on inadequate theories of learning. Hence, Carnegie proposed that it was not students, but schools, that fail.

The evidence emanating from the neurosciences on which Carnegie drew has been sharpened in the work of Antonio Damasio (Damasio, 2003; Immordino-Yang and Damasio, 2007). Damasio’s main interest is in the neurobiology of the mind, especially concerning those neural systems that underpin reason, memory, emotion and social interaction. His work is associated with the notion of the cognition/affect/sociality nexus, a way of conceiving of emotional and social development as not being separate from, but inherently part of, all rational processes:

Modern biology reveals humans to be fundamentally emotional and social creatures. And yet those of us in the field of education often fail to consider that the high-level cognitive skills taught in schools, including reasoning, decision making, and processes related to language, reading, and mathematics, do not function as rational, disembodied systems, somehow influenced by but detached from emotion and the body. (Immordino-Yang and Damasio, 2007, p. 3)

The scientific rigour of experimental work of this kind is causing educationalists to rethink many of their assumptions about a range of developmental issues, including that of learning itself. Damasio’s work points to the need for new pedagogy that engages the whole person rather than just the cognitive person in its narrowest sense. Damasio has demonstrated that sociality enjoys an interactive nexus relationship with the brain functions known as cognition and affect. That is, there can be no cognitive and emotional development without corresponding social development.

Similarly, the work of Daniel Goleman (1996, 2001 and 2006) is associated with concepts of social and emotional intelligence, and hence social and emotional learning (SEL). Goleman has demonstrated in his work that social intelligence (SQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) are at least as vital to sound cognition as the more familiar notion of IQ (intelligence quotient). The implication is that IQ, a notion that has been prominent in teaching, is not fixed, free-standing and determinative of student achievement as an isolated factor. It is rather highly contextualized and dependent on other factors about one’s current state of well-being of body, mind and social being. As such, the effects normally associated with IQ can be impacted on by well-informed, well-constructed pedagogy that is designed to engage the whole person. Goleman has shown that social intelligence is not a separate entity from other forms of intelligence. It functions conjointly with other forms to constitute the very entity we describe as ‘intelligence’. Without it, intelligence is impaired.

In like manner, Robert Sternberg (2007) was not only critical of the traditional IQ test but actually devised a more sophisticated intelligence test based on his broader theory of intelligences. Sternberg sees cognition as part of a broader mix of human factors, involving the analytic, synthetic and practical, implying a fuller range of human capabilities than is understood by the more limited and rationalistic notions of intelligence. These research findings illustrate why it is that attending to matters such as trust, care and encouraging relationships in schools can have such a positive impact on learning in general (Bryk and Schneider, 2002; Rowe, 2004). Furthermore, there is now a vast store of evidence from values education research that the establishment of a positive, caring and encouraging ambience of learning, together with explicit discourse about values in ways that draw on students’ deeper learning and reflectivity, has power to transform the patterns of feelings, behaviour, resilience and academic diligence that might once have been the norm among students (cf. Benninga et al., 2006; Hawkes, 2009; Lovat and Toomey, 2009; Lovat and Clement, 2008a, 2008b). Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that it is in those sites where an intentional and carefully managed Service-Learning component is included that this transformation is most pronounced.

It is pertinent therefore to examine those elements of values education research that have focused specifically on Service-Learning and the consequent nurturing of empathic character, sociality and social intelligence. Service-Learning is characterized by a pedagogy that combines community service with reflection on action (Furco and Billig, 2002). Studies at school level have shown that such pedagogy has a positive impact on student behaviour and moral awareness, resulting in improved attitudes towards their social responsibilities and civic engagement (Halfacre et al., 2006; Berkowitz et al., 2008; Hart et al., 2008). Furthermore, research has demonstrated that the intense reflection on service to the community that characterizes the well structured Service-Learning programme produces responses consistent with advanced cognitive development and improved academic awareness (Eyler, 2002; Novak et al., 2007; Waldstein and Reiher, 2001). In turn, other studies have shown that this strengthened cognitive capacity and intellectual commitment can result in improved academic achievement (Kraft and Wheeler, 2003; Michael, 2005; Scales et al., 2006; Strage, 2004; Tannenbaum and Brown-Welty, 2006). Much of the evidence captured in the research and practice of the projects emanating from the Australian National Framework, cited above, is consistent with these wider international findings. Central among the Australian projects from which such findings emanate is the Values Education Good Practice Schools Project (VEGPSP).

Service-Learning in the Australian Values Education Project

The National Framework referred to above impelled a number of important projects related to best practice in schools, teacher education, parents and other stakeholders and resources. The largest project, the Values Education Good Practice Schools Project (VEGPSP), impacted on 316 Australian schools in 51 clusters. The schools were drawn from all sectors across all states and territories, with many of the clusters consisting of schools from across the sectors of public, private and religious. Throughout its two stages, VEGPSP involved over 100,000 school students and over 10,000 teachers. At its core were the 51 Cluster Leaders (senior teachers) and their University Associates (academic mentors). Between these two functions, the research and practice nexus of the project was assured.

Service-Learning was a constant feature of VEGPSP. In the report on the first phase of the project (DEST, 2006), comprising 166 schools in 26 clusters, several of the cluster projects focused explicitly on social outreach and engagement mes that were identified increasingly with the ambience and intention of Service-Learning. The many definitions of Service-Learning to be found in the literature were narrowed down to the following working definition:

  • service to others integrated into cross-curricular programmes;

  • a learning context where the concept of service is both explicit and implicit;

  • a two-way learning process – that is, there is explicit reciprocity between the school and the outside community (DEST, 2006, p. 156).

Teaching and teacher education

Outreach ventures included working in aged care centres, reading programmes for people in hospitals, developing safe travel programmes for students going to and from schools, environmental projects and the development of ‘Student Action Teams’ linked to the work of the Red Cross. Typical of the remarks of students involved were the following quotations:

  • ‘I have learnt different values.’

  • ‘I learnt about care and compassion’ (DEST, 2006, p. 157).

Meanwhile, one teacher made the following observation:

The overall confidence of the students grew as they gained an understanding of the needs of the residents and they came away feeling a sense of achievement and greater understanding. This then flowed into the conversation and written responses gained after the trip. The students showed compassion to the circumstances the residents lived in and wanted to discuss other ways they could help. (DEST, 2006, p. 157)

In one of the school sites where, according to best practice guidelines, reflective discussion and dialogue preceded and followed the outreach experiences, pre-service reflection with students revealed apprehensiveness about the potential for the experience to have any meaning for them. In contrast, reflection after the event illustrated the comprehensiveness of the project’s impact on them. By the time the students had undertaken their projects, however, the comments exhibited marked change, as seen in the following quotations:

  • ‘Understanding because you need to know how people feel and what they think.’

  • ‘I value my life and understanding.’

  • ‘Don’t take life for granted because it is too short.’

  • ‘I now value my youth and have more respect for the elderly and the way they live.’

  • ‘There are values in everything. I just didn’t realize it before’ (DEST, 2006, p. 161).

And, in one particularly direct and personal response which illustrates how important personal experience can be:

From all of the people in the respite centre, I saw how they respected me and they tolerated how hopeless I was. They were so patient it was unbelievable. I really respect them and I tried to do my best because it was so important to them – all of those values things really. (DEST, 2006, pp. 160–1)

In the report of the second phase of the project (DEEWR, 2008), comprising 25 cluster projects around 151 participant schools, the potential of Service-Learning as a means of achieving the full effects of values education was the subject of greater recognition. The Executive Summary of this project proffered the following in relation to enhancing student agency:

The Stage 2 cluster experiences speak convincingly of the critical importance of enabling and providing opportunities for student agency. Although present in many of the Stage 1 projects, the role of student empowerment and agency in values education practice has been significantly highlighted in Stage 2. Starting from the premise that schooling educates for the whole child and must necessarily engage a student’s heart, mind and actions, effective values education empowers student decision making, fosters student action and assigns real student responsibility. Effective values education is not an academic exercise; it needs to be deeply personal, deeply real and deeply engaging. In many of the Stage 2 projects students can be seen to move in stages from growing in knowledge and understanding of the values, to an increasing clarity and commitment to certain values, and then concerted action in living those values in their personal and community lives. (DEEWR, 2008, p. 11)

The reference to student agency in the report denoted a new awareness of the importance of building into values education programmes overt and well organized social outreach opportunities. Furthermore, the growing realization of the value-added nature of such opportunities was seen when the report referred to the specific values education goal of fostering intercultural understanding and literacy around matters of social inclusion and exclusion:

Stage 2 speaks more specifically and extensively than Stage 1 on the use of values education to foster social inclusion within school communities. A number of cluster projects demonstrate how some of their values education practices can provide both the tools and the common ground for positively engaging with the diversity and difference that arises from a multitude of cultures, faiths, ethnicities, abilities, and geographic and socioeconomic circumstances, and which can marginalise groups from mainstream learning. These Stage 2 cluster projects show that values education is uniquely placed as a vehicle to work across these different forms of ‘divide’, and to provide opportunities for social inclusion, fostering social cohesion, developing intercultural and interfaith understanding, and engaging the disengaged. (DEEWR, 2008, p. 11)

The report identified, for a range of cluster projects, the centrality of Service-Learning pedagogy to the project’s intentions. For example, one cluster of schools took a global education focus on children’s working conditions in Third World countries. The resultant action took the form of student campaigns to alert consumers to manufactured goods that were the product of child labour. In another cluster, engagement with disadvantaged groups in their own community led to organized activities to address loneliness and deprivation. Both examples were seen to portray growth in empathic character on the part of students, an essential learning outcome related directly to the goals of enhanced citizenship capacity. On the basis of such evidence, the report proffered:

Service-learning is a pedagogy that aids the development of young people as they learn to engage in the worlds of others and then participate in civic service. It is a form of experiential learning which is integrally related to values education, and helps young people to empathise, engage and take their place as civic-minded, responsible, caring and empowered citizens in our community. (DEEWR, 2008, p. 34)

The link between growth in student engagement, on the one hand, and greater academic attention and enhancement, on the other hand, was noted quite early on in the development of the Australian programme. Without these links being especially explicit, as early as the first phase of VEGPSP, teacher testimony was including comments like the following:

Everyone in the classroom exchange, teachers and students alike, became more conscious of trying to be respectful, trying to do their best and trying to give others a fair go. We also found that by creating an environment where these values were constantly shaping classroom activity, student learning was improving, teachers and students were happier and school was calmer. (DEST, 2006, p. 120)

By the time VEGPSP had matured into the second phase, these links were being made more often and were more prominent in the participants’ minds. In the latter report, we read:

In an important development from the Stage 1 Final Report inferences, which talked about having something worthwhile to teach in the values domain, the Stage 2 cluster experiences drill deeper and report on the effects on students of what was taught, and link it to increased student agency. Teachers assert that increased student agency makes schooling more meaningful, enjoyable and relevant to students’ lives. Student agency refers to empowering students through curriculum approaches that:

  • engage them;

  • are respectful of and seek their opinions;

  • give them opportunities to feel connected to school life;

  • promote positive and caring relationships between all members of the school community;

  • promote wellbeing and focus on the whole student;

  • relate to real-life experiences;

  • are safe and supportive. (DEEWR, 2008, p. 40)

In this statement, we begin to sense an awareness of and confidence in the vital links between holistic and effective student agency and the wider goals of learning inherent to the school, including its foundational charter around academic learning. Herein, we see demonstrated evidentially the postulation made at the outset, namely that values education can no longer be seen merely as a moral imperative but also as a pedagogical one. In light of the Damasio thesis around the nexus of cognition, affect and sociality, this can hardly be surprising. In the second phase of VEGPSP, we read:

The Stage 2 cluster experiences accord with research findings in the field of social-emotional learning and its relation to building academic success. Zins et al. (2004) conclude that safe, caring and orderly environments are conducive to learning; that caring relations between teachers and students foster a desire to learn and a connection to school; and that socially engaging teaching strategies focus students on their learning tasks. (DEEWR, 2008, p. 41)

Testing the Troika Thesis

Across the three years in which the VEGPSP projects rolled out, the nature of the resulting evidence was shifting from being purely qualitative to having a quantitative edge, albeit lacking formal instrumentation and measurement. These latter were brought to bear in the Project to Test and Measure the Impact of Values Education on Student Effects and School Ambience (Lovat et al., 2009b). In this study, there was interest in all of the claims being made around student effects, with a dedicated focus on arguably the most contentious claims, namely those around student academic improvement. Granted the high stakes around this claim, the study was characterized by intensive quantitative as well as qualitative methods of analysis. The main items of measurement included school ambience, student–teacher relationships, student and teacher well-being, and student academic diligence, with much attention being paid to the pedagogies and general strategies that contributed positively around these items.

The mixed methods approach took the form of a sequential explanatory design (Creswell et al., 2003). In this study, quantitative data were collected over two time-periods and analyzed. Qualitative data were collected during the second phase and were analyzed separately to help explain and elaborate on the quantitative results. The qualitative data helped to refine and explain the statistical results by incorporating more detailed information from the perspectives of the research participants. Student, staff and parent pre- and post-surveys were administered in order to obtain quantitative and qualitative data about the effects of the values education programme on student behaviour and engagement as well as classroom and school ambience. The results of the analysis of the teacher surveys revealed that teachers perceived statistically significant improvements on the three aspects of student behaviour that were assessed. These included academic engagement (t = –3.89, p <.05), inclusive behaviour (t = –2.31, p <.05) and responsible behaviour (t = –2.15, p <.05) (Lovat et al., 2010b). These results, together with the related qualitative data, then informed the claims made around the four items of measurement, namely, school ambience, student–teacher relationships, student and teacher well-being, and student academic diligence.

Concerning the matter of school ambience, qualitative evidence was elicited that confirmed earlier claims that values education impels a ‘ “calmer” environment with less conflict and with a reduction in the number of referrals (of behaviour problems)’ (Lovat et al., 2009, p. 8). With regard to student– teacher relationships, there was evidence of a ‘rise in levels of politeness and courtesy, open friendliness, better manners, offers of help, and students being more kind and considerate [and] greater respect’ (ibid., p. 9). About student well-being, the report provided evidence of ‘the creation of a safer and more caring school community . . . self-regulation and enhanced self-esteem’ (ibid., p. 10). Arguably, the most unexpected evidence was that concerned with the factor of student academic diligence. Here, the report spoke at length about students ‘putting greater effort into their work and “striving for quality”, “striving to achieve their best” and even “striving for perfection” ... taking greater pride in their work and producing quality outcomes’ (ibid., p. 6). The report concluded:

Thus, there was substantial quantitative and qualitative evidence suggesting that there were observable and measurable improvements in students’ academic diligence, including increased attentiveness, a greater capacity to work independently as well as more cooperatively, greater care and effort being invested in schoolwork and students assuming more responsibility for their own learning. (Lovat et al., 2009b, p. 6)

Included in the report was considerable evidence of the role that Service-Learning played as an element of the values education pedagogy under investigation:

The notion of service-learning was implicit in many of the activities which schools introduced to develop students’ responsibility and respect for others and the environment ... Thus, students were able to put the values into practice in functional and purposeful ways while making a meaningful contribution to the school environment. (Lovat et al., 2009b, p. 34)

The report noted that the general effects of enhanced social consciousness and empathic character, which have been identified in values education generally, were particularly strong features of the results where Service-Learning was an explicit and intentional component of the programme:

Service-learning . . . engages students in action-based activities where they can apply their curriculum learning in direct service to others or their community. It combines principles of constructivist learning with a very practical manifestation of empathy and social justice in the form of giving to others or contributing to worthwhile social change. (ibid., 2009b, p. 183)

... ‘service-learning’ allowed head, hands and hearts to be involved in a values based partnership. (ibid., 2009b, p. 208)

... service-learning [means] putting what has been learned about values into active practice. (ibid., 2009b, p. 227)

Furthermore, it was noted that Service-Learning was a particularly powerful pedagogy in strengthening the often noted link between values education and academic achievement:

Uniformly, teachers report that doing something with and for the community increases the students’ engagement in their learning. This resonates with an interesting but relatively novel proposition in education: when students have opportunities to give to their community, to something beyond themselves, it changes their attitude to the learning tasks. (ibid., 2009b, p. 183)


Research around effective learning has shown how much more holistic an enterprise it is than can be conveyed merely by concern for technical knowledge. In the research that underpins such a claim is the increasing evidence being provided in the field of values education, among which research the Australian evidence is substantial, comprehensive and empirically tested. Within this research evidence, there are clear indicators that the role of Service-Learning as a values-related pedagogy has potential to be especially effective in impelling the wider effects of learning at which values education is directed. These wider effects include those related to improved student behaviour, strengthened teacher–student relationships, the better learning ambience of the school and enhanced citizenship capacity. In this respect, Service-Learning can be seen to be more than a marginal or dispensable extra among the range of potential pedagogies but, indeed, to be central to effective pedagogy in general.


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