Service-Learning: Reconciling Research and Teaching, Tackling Capacious Issues

Robert W. Franco - Kapiolani Community College

(About the author)


In this paper, I will suggest that a robust program in academically-based service learning is a vital linking strategy to connect scholarship, learning in community colleges, educational success for students under-represented in higher education, and the improvement of the human condition. Service-learning empowers students, graduates, and communities to tackle tough problems and brings relevance and urgency to teaching while advancing research and discovery. I will argue that service-learning has particular relevance within the culture of community colleges and that it provides a first and second year community-based, engaged research foundation for further undergraduate research in numerous scientific disciplines including biology, microbiology, chemistry, ecology, physiology, engineering, and technology.
- From the introduction

Topics of Interest to the SENCER Community

Brief history of evolution of community colleges from their origins as 'junior colleges' in the early 1900s.

  • Mission change/relationship to four-year colleges and universities.
  • Role in workforce development and scholarship.
  • Provides statistics on current community college student population, faculty, degrees awarded.

Discusses institutional civic engagement and recognizes special challenges community college faculty face.

  • Details 13 indicators of engagement at community colleges that impact ability of faculty to engage with students and communities.
  • Identifies best practices in supporting faculty engagement.
  • Provides examples of engagement and faculty development support at diverse, specific community colleges.

Addresses integrating faculty research at community colleges and into courses; also offering undergraduate research opportunities for students.

Academically-based service-learning as a strategy to connect scholarship, learning, and success for students.

  • Success in academic transfer, careers, and as citizens.
  • Service-learning is explicitly grounded in teaching and learning at engaged community colleges.

Case study example of how Kapiolani Community College adopted the SENCER approach with service-learning and applied it to numerous courses and disciplines, specifically for first-year students.

  • Issues used in courses: health promotion and disease prevention, health disparities in minority populations, sleep and brain function, ecological deterioration, genetic modification of foods.
  • Courses that integrate service-learning and connect first and second-year curricula: botany, chemistry, ecology, and microbiology.
  • Service-learning is used by Kapiolani as a way to address low literacy rates, low math and science proficiency, and low high school graduation rates.

Full Report

Service-Learning: Reconciling Research and Teaching, Tackling Capacious Issues (Acrobat (PDF) 57kB Oct28 09)