In the 20 years since Zlotkowski (1995) called for curricular integration of service-learning (SL) across the academy, we have seen increasing adoption of and support for the pedagogy in students’ first-year experience. Gardner (2002) suggests that SL in the first year is particularly important because it can lead to increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Ferguson (2015) argues that it can be used then to awaken curiosity and help students connect to each other, the campus, and the community. And the field is accumulating evidence of the positive impact of SL in the first year on retention (e.g., Garoutte & McCarthy-Gilmore, 2014). Thus, it is becoming well established that SL plays an important role in the first year. As we see it, what we must attend carefully to in the coming years is how SL is framed and implemented in that crucial formative space. Our experience suggests that, given the particular challenges of first-year courses, it is all too easy to default to an approach that unintentionally sets students on a problematic path in their interactions with communities. Specifically, we call for attention to asset-based approaches that, from the beginning, help undergraduates see themselves and others on an equal footing and learn to look for, appreciate, and build on their own and others’ strengths.
Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning
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Bauer, T., Kniffin, L. E., & Priest, K. L. (2015). The Future of Service-Learning and Community Engagement: Asset-Based Approaches and Student Learning in First-Year Courses. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 22(1), 89–92.