- Service-Learning Essentials: Questions, Answers, and Lessons Learned by Barbara Jacoby
San francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2014, 352 pages, $38.00 (softcover)
What a delight it is to read Barbara Jacoby’s compilation of her wisdom on service-learning. The breadth of the book is ensured by Jacoby’s allegiance to a definition of service-learning that encompasses both curricular and cocurricular initiatives. As such, the book is relevant to professionals in academic affairs and student affairs who practice service-learning, are interested in promoting its role in higher education, and want to have a resource that they can hand to others to answer questions about its nature.
Holliday and Chandler (1986) identified two attributes of wisdom: (a) exceptional understanding of experience, and (b) judgment and communication skills. Jacoby has had extensive experience helping others understand the basic and the complicated aspects of implementing service-learning in higher education. She has done this through books that have led the way in the field’s development (e.g., Jacoby, 1996; Jacoby, 2003; Jacoby, 2009; Jacoby & Mutascio, 2010) as well as through her many workshops and lectures. She has consistently helped others learn from her experiences and the experiences of others. This book captures her exceptional understanding of service-learning.
The book also demonstrates Jacoby’s excellent judgment in presenting best practices, choices to be made, and navigating the nuances of service learning. This is done across an extraordinary breadth and with appropriate depth to be useful to most practitioners and supporters of service-learning. This includes faculty who want to integrate service learning into a course or those who would like to improve the quality of their service learning courses or programs. The information will be of interest to professional staff and administrators associated with campus-level initiatives to promote and enhance service-learning (e.g., community service directors, deans of student affairs, student affairs staff, chief academic officers). The book will also provide useful information to other constituencies (e.g., students, community partners, funders).
Jacoby does all of this with exceptionally clear communication. The presentation artfully goes from the basic concepts, best practices, and rudiments of service-learning to the complexities and contentious issues. She provides a depth of exploration that will help even seasoned practitioners and instructors appreciate what they are doing, learn more about their craft, and improve their work. The book will also serve as a resource for those interested in greater depth because of the citations to primary sources and the identification of key resources at the end of each section.
The book appropriately begins with definitions of service-learning and civic engagement, its philosophical roots and history, its rationale, and how it varies depending on institutional type. The next two chapters focus on the cornerstones of service-learning: reflection and partnerships. Each of these chapters explores different approaches, best practices, and specific examples to help practitioners. Chapter 4 provides a nut-and-bolts examination of integrating service-learning into academic courses. It covers such topics as different ways to structure service-learning in a course, the syllabus, assessment and grading, logistics, special types of courses (e.g., in a discipline, on-line course, general education), and related topics (e.g., designating service-learning courses, promotion and tenure, departmental engagement). [End Page 754]
To complement the chapter on integrating service-learning into courses, Chapter 5 is devoted to co-curricular service-learning. It covers different types of co-curricular service-learning, connecting co-curricular service-learning to other initiatives in student affairs, student development and leadership, and assessing co-curricular service. Assessment is then broadened into a full chapter. Chapter 6 briefly considers different types of assessment: counting, evaluation, benchmarking, outcomes assessment, and how assessment can provide a basis for research. It also discusses the purposes of assessment and different methods for gathering information (e.g., surveys, academic achievement, content analysis of student products, interviews, focus groups, observation, case studies). In addition to student assessment, the chapter contains brief overviews of course assessment, assessment from the point-of-view of community partners, and assessment at the institutional level.
The focus of...