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Documenting the Community Impact of Service-Learning Coursework: Theoretical and Practical Considerations

Jennifer H. James, Kimberly Logan


The purpose of this exploratory case study was to document the community impact of one graduate-level service-learning course, Teaching in Place. Our goals were to extend theoretical conversations of what is meant by “community impact” as well as offer grounded recommendations for documentation and evaluation. Data included semi-structured interviews with primary and secondary partners, children and families served, as well as questionnaires and reflective journals completed by participating university students. Findings suggest that these open-ended instruments allowed for the generation of a nuanced and grounded definition of “impact” to include various forms of institutional capacity-building, as well as personal and social benefits. The multi-layered approach to documentation not only facilitated a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of the SL course, but also provided feedback for primary partners, who were interested in growing their partnership in ways that better serve the community. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed.


service-learning; community; partnerships; impact

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Partnerships is sponsored by North Carolina Campus Compact, and hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. ISSN: 1944-1061
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