Reflecting on Reflection: Capitalizing on the Learning in Intergenerational Service-Learning

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This article was downloaded by: [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology]On: 21 December 2014, At: 23:05Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKGerontology & Geriatrics EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: on Reflection: Capitalizingon the Learning in IntergenerationalService-LearningRona J. Karasik aa Gerontology Program , Saint Cloud State University , St. Cloud ,Minnesota , USAAccepted author version posted online: 07 Dec 2012.Publishedonline: 30 Jan 2013.To cite this article: Rona J. Karasik (2013) Reflecting on Reflection: Capitalizing on the Learningin Intergenerational Service-Learning, Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 34:1, 78-98, DOI:10.1080/02701960.2013.749252To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. 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KARASIKGerontology Program, Saint Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USAIntergenerational service-learning has become an important prac-tice in gerontology and geriatrics education. Although numerousbenefits of service-learning have been documented, greater atten-tion to critical reflection, a key component for harvesting thelearning in service-learning, is needed to increase our under-standing of what students really are learning from intergenera-tional service-learning and how we may best enhance the positiveaspects of that learning. This article examines the elements nec-essary for effective service-learning reflection, as well as reportson the results of a survey of gerontology and geriatric educa-tors (N = 142) regarding their experiences with intergenerationalservice-learning and their use of specific reflection practices. Thefindings suggest that the types and implementation of service-learn-ing reflection activities used in aging courses vary considerably.The importance of service-learning reflection and its associatedbenefits and challenges are discussed.KEYWORDS community learning, experiential learning,pedagogyIntergenerational service-learning has become an important practice ingerontology and geriatrics education. Numerous benefits associated withservice-learning in aging-related courses have been documented and includeproviding real-life experience and knowledge about elder care and humanservice issues (Westacott & Hegeman, 1996), increasing student understand-ing of the processes of aging (Blieszner & Artale, 2001; Whitbourne, Collins,& Skultety, 2001), helping students translate theory into practice (Faria,Address correspondence to Rona J. Karasik, Gerontology Program, Saint Cloud StateUniversity, 363 Stewart Hall, 720 4th Avenue S., St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498, USA. E-mail:Karasik@stcloudstate.edu78Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 79Dauenhauer, & Steitz, 2010; Horowitz, Wong, & Dechello, 2010; Karasik &Berke, 2001), dispelling myths about aging and older persons (Karasik &Berke, 2001; Krout et al., 2010; Whitbourne et al., 2001), improving stu-dent attitudes toward older workers (Hanks & Icenogle, 2001; Knapp &Stubblefield, 2000), increasing student and faculty community engagement(Hegemen, Roodin, Gilliland, & OFlathabhain, 2010; Karasik, Maddox, &Wallingford, 2004; Karasik & Wallingford, 2007), and encouraging studentsto choose careers in the field of aging (Blieszner & Artale, 2001; Horowitzet al., 2010).To realize these many benefits of service-learning, attention needs to begiven to what students are actually learning from their service experiences.Bringle and Hatcher (1999) noted that,Experience becomes educative when critical reflective thought createsnew meaning and leads to growth and the ability to take informedactions. In contrast, experiences are miseducative when they fail to stim-ulate critical thought and they more deeply entrench existing schemata.(p. 180)In gerontology and geriatrics, where students often come in with negativeexpectations about aging and older adults (Gonzales, Morrow-Howell, &Gilbert, 2010; Lee, 2009), the risk of miseducation is particularly salient. A fewstudies, in fact, found that intergenerational service-learning has the potentialto produce mixed or negative outcomes as well as positive ones (Dorfman,Murty, Ingram, Evans, & Power, 2004; Karasik, 2005a; Robinson & Cubit,2007). The amount and type of critical reflection associated with service-learning has been identified as an essential factor in ensuring the quality andeffectiveness of the learning experience (Eyler, 2002; Eyler & Giles, 1999).This article examines the elements necessary for effective service-learningreflection as well as reports on the results of a survey of gerontology andgeriatric educators regarding their experiences with intergenerational service-learning and their use of specific reflection practices in their courses onaging.Critical Reflection and Service-LearningAccording to Furco (1996), service-learning is distinguished from other formsof experiential education (e.g., fieldwork, internships, volunteering) by itsfocus on balancing student learning with the communitys need for service.Weigert (1998) identified several elements of service-learning, including thatstudents provide some meaningful service (work) that meets a need or goalthat is defined by a community (or some of its members), that the serviceflow from and into course objectives, be integrated into the course bymeans of assignments that require some form of reflection on the service inDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 80 R. J. Karasiklight of the course objectives and that assignments related to the service beassessed and evaluated accordingly (p. 5). Jacoby (1996) further noted thatreflection and reciprocity are key concepts of service-learning (p. 5).Understanding and implementing effective service-learning reflectioncan be challenging. Some of the challenge comes from the reality that reflec-tion describes both a cognitive process . . . and a structured learning activity(Hatcher & Bringle, 1997, p. 153). Essentially, faculty must create activitiesthat spur critical thought, in this case helping students to think about whatthey are learning from their service experiences. Thus, Hatcher and Bringle(1997) define reflection as the intentional consideration of an experience inlight of particular learning objectives (p. 153). To create effective service-learning reflection activities, Hatcher and Bringle suggested the followingsteps: link the service experience to the course learning objectives, providestudents with guidelines for the reflection activities, schedule reflection activ-ities on a regular basis, create opportunities for assessment and feedbackof the reflection, and design reflection activities that encourage students toexamine and clarify their values (e.g., related to social responsibility, civicparticipation, and personal and professional ethics).Reflection ActivitiesThere are many activities that have been suggested for assisting studentsto reflect on what they are learning, including small- and large-group dis-cussions, directed readings, analytic papers, and journaling. To date, noone reflective form appears to be superior in the literature. Rather, eachapproach has its benefits and drawbacks. It would make sense, therefore,that faculty consider selecting a reflection format that is compatible withtheir teaching approach. For instance, Karasik (2005b) offered the examplewhereby an in-class large-group reflection discussion forced the faculty tobe flexible with the days scheduled content to capitalize on the elusiveteachable moment. In this case, a service-learning students concern aboutreceiving cookies from her elderly community partner required a shift to anunplanned but essential discussion about reciprocity and ethics. Reflectivediscussions of this kind can be highly effective but can also play havoc withclass schedules. In addition to scheduling sufficient time for such discussions,care must be taken to be sure everyone is included in this dynamic process ofreflection.Written journals (Bringle & Hatcher, 1999; Hatcher & Bringle, 1997) canprovide students with more time and privacy for reflecting, but the immedi-acy of the moment may be lost and the potential for any shared learning thatcomes from discussion may or may not be possible. Additionally, some fac-ulty may find the weight of paper journals literally to be burdensome. Oneway to capture the essences of discussion and journaling is proposed by Mills(2001) who described the use of interactive, web-based journals using theDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 81discussion function on Blackboard (a feature also available on similar coursemanagement systems such as Desire 2 Learn). This paperless approach hasits advantages, providing one has the available technological capabilities.Regardless of the activity format, the most important and challengingaspect of reflection is to help students achieve depth in their critical analysisof their service experiences (Eyler, 2002; Eyler & Giles, 1999; Hume, 2009).Although few would disagree with this as a goal, Welch (2010) raised thedilemma he called the shadow-side of reflection, where students and pos-sibly faculty may not be emotionally, developmentally or culturally preparedfor some of the challenges that shook their assumptions and perceptionsabout themselves and the world around them (p. 2). Welch suggested that itis important to guide students on their reflective journey by forewarning stu-dents of the possibility of the emotional challenges they might face, as wellas providing prereflection activities that help students anticipate possibleemotional as well as educational outcomes of their service experiences.Intergenerational Service-Learning ReflectionIn the broad range of service-learning literature, there are several excellentresources that provide guidance on designing and implementing service-learning reflection (Ash & Clayton, 2004; Eyler, 2002; Eyler & Giles, 1999).The gerontological literature similarly provides several good examples ofreflective practice, including McCrea, Weissman, Stepp, and Cihas (2004)compendium stemming from the Generations Together IntergenerationalService-learning grant project supported by the Corporation for National andCommunity Service. This fourth volume of the compendium offers eight arti-cles that outline various aspects of reflective practice for intergenerationalservice-learning. Cohen (2004), for example, highlights the personal natureof reflection, noting that reflective practice is the recognition that peopleenter every situation with assumptions and prior experiences . . . [which]influence who they are and what they believe (p. 21). Faculty must notassume they know what students are taking with them into the service expe-rience, nor should they assume that students are knowledgeable about whatcritical reflection is or how it is done. To that end, Stogner (2004) suggestedthat faculty conduct lectures on critical thinking prior to students engagingin their service experiences. Similarly, Viggiana (2004) focused on ways toprepare students with pre-service reflection and provides readers with areflection assignment format and a template for how faculty might reviewreflective journal entries. Wong (2004) also provided examples of reflectionactivities to be conducted prior to, during, and following students serviceexperiences. Additional topics in the compendium include ideas for vir-tual (Brown, 2004) and distance-learning reflection assignments (Singleton,Bodle, & Gilliland, 2004) as well as using reflection outcomes for assessment(Ballard & Lamson, 2004; Breytsprakk, 2004).Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 82 R. J. KarasikOthers who have illustrated the importance and practice of intergenera-tional service-learning reflection include Lambert-Shute, Jarrott, and Fruhauf(2004) who conducted student focus groups to understand how studentsexperienced not only their service-learning but also the effect an expandedorientation and training program had on helping them to become more com-fortable doing service-learning with persons with dementia. Finally, Cohen,Hatchett, and Eastridge (2006), who illustrated how various reflective practiceassignments were paired with five different intergenerational service-learningprojects, brought home the point that reflection, like the service itself, cantake many different forms.Although clearly the practice of reflection is an essential component ofeffective service-learning, Eyler (2002) expressed the nagging concern thatthere is reason to believe that reflection gets rather short shrift in typicalservice-learning experiences (p. 518). Thus, in spite of what we know aboutthe importance of reflection, it seems reasonable to ask: Are most practition-ers of service-learning using appropriate and effective reflective practices,and if so, to what end? This study sought to explore gerontology and geri-atric educators use of intergenerational service-learning and their specificreflection practices.METHODParticipantsGerontology and geriatric faculty (N = 142) from institutions across theUnited States responded to an electronic survey on intergenerational service-learning. The majority of respondents identified themselves as associateprofessors (n = 38, 27%), assistant professors (n = 31, 22%), or full profes-sors (n = 29, 20%). Remaining respondents identified themselves as part-timeinstructors/adjuncts (n = 18, 13%), administrator/instructors (n = 17, 12%),graduate assistants (n = 3, 2%), administrators (n = 2, 1%), extension spe-cialists (n = 1, 0.7%), faculty emeritus (n = 1, 0.7%), and other (n = 1,0.7%).Respondents identified a wide range of primary disciplines, includinggerontology (n = 53, 38%); social work (n = 13, 9.3%), psychology (n = 12,8.6%), sociology (n = 12, 8.6%), geriatrics (n = 7, 5%), occupational therapy(n = 4, 2.9%), medicine (3, 2.1%), and nursing (3, 2.1%). All other primarydisciplines identified had no more than one respondent per category. Lengthof teaching experience ranged from 0 to 1 years (n = 7) to more than30 years (n = 21), with a mode range of 11 to 15 years (n = 28).InstrumentAn online survey with a mix of 24 open- and close-ended questionswas developed specifically for this study using the current literature onDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 83intergenerational service-learning and service-learning reflection practice asa guide to identify relevant areas of inquiry. Six introductory questionsaddressed demographic information and basic teaching experience. The sev-enth question, Have you ever included service-learning in one or more ofyour courses? was used to determine whether respondents would be askedadditional questions regarding their service-learning practices. Throughoutthe survey, all of the questions provided respondents with opportunitiesto write in alternative responses if they so desired (e.g., OtherPleasespecify).ProcedureAging-related academic programs were identified using the Association forGerontology in Higher Educations (AGHE; 2009) Directory of EducationalPrograms in Gerontology & Geriatrics, which lists schools of higher educa-tion with formal programs in aging regardless of their membership status inthe AGHE. School Web sites for each of the listed programs were found, ande-mails for faculty teaching in these programs were gathered. From this infor-mation, a database of 1,232 public e-mail addresses of faculty who potentiallytaught aging courses was generated. An introductory e-mail inviting recipi-ents to participate in the survey containing a link to the electronic survey wassent, resulting in an approximate response rate of 11.5%. Descriptive statis-tics were generated by the electronic survey site (Survey Monkey). Somepercentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding errors or questionsthat allowed for more than one response (e.g., Please check all that apply).Open-ended responses and follow-up materials were examined for themesusing open-coding procedures.RESULTSService-Learning ParticipationRespondents were asked, Have you ever included service-learning in oneor more of your courses? and directed by the electronic survey to follow-up questions depending on their responses. Participants responding no tothe question were directed to a set of questions regarding their perceptionsof service-learning. Respondents indicating yes to the question were askedsubsequent questions regarding the types of aging courses they used service-learning in, the specific ways in which they included service-learning in theircourse(s), and their reasons for including service-learning.Use of service-learning. A majority of respondents (n = 88, 62.0%) indi-cated yes to the query, Have you ever included service-learning in one ormore of your courses? A little more than one third (n = 49, 34.5%) said no,and five participants (3.5%) did not respond to this question and thus didDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 84 R. J. Karasiknot continue with the survey beyond this point. Participants who respondedno indicated a wide range of reasons for not using service-learning, includ-ing I am considering using it in the future (n = 11, 22.4%), I use othercommunity-based learning approaches (n = 11, 22.4%), I do not teachcourses that fit with service-learning (n = 10, 20.4%), I teach on-line (n =10, 20.4%), I have never heard of service-learning (n = 7, 14.3%), I pre-fer traditional classroom methods (n = 5, 10.2%), Service-learning is tootime consuming (n = 5, 10.2%), and My students are not interested (n =1, 2.0%). One open-ended Other response indicated, I am not convincedthat the sort of learning that occurs in service-learning experiences is at alevel appropriate for college.Course types. Respondents who reported using service-learning (n =88) identified more than 51 different topical courses where service-learninghad been included. The most common courses included Introduction toAging (n = 31, 35.2%), Internship/Field Experience/Practicum in Aging (n =19, 21.6%), Health and Aging (n = 15, 17.0%), Policy and Programs for OlderAdults (n = 15, 17.0%), Adult Development and Aging (n = 14, 15.9%),Death and Dying (n = 13, 14.8%), Social Work and Aging (n = 11, 12.5%),and Sociology of Aging (n = 11, 12.5%).Elements of service-learning practice. Participants who indicated theyused service-learning (n = 88) were asked about practices that best describedtheir service-learning practice (Table 1). The majority of service-learningexperiences described extended throughout the semester (n = 59, 67.0%),had mandatory participation (n = 58, 65.9%), had community partners super-vising students on site (n = 56, 63.6%), a set number of required hours (n =50, 57.0%), and a range of service sites available (n = 45, 51.1%).TABLE 1 Which of the Following Best Describes Your Service-Learning Practice? (Check AllThat Apply)Service-learning Practice Number of responses (N = 88)Service experience extends throughout thesemester59 (67.0%)Participation is mandatory 58 (65.9%)Community partner supervises student on site 56 (63.6%)A set number of hours is required 50 (57.0%)A range of service sites are available 45 (51.1%)Faculty selects service setting 39 (44.3%)Students select service setting 35 (39.8%)Experience is project (rather than time) based 34 (38.6%)Faculty supervises students on site 22 (25.0%)Participation is optional 20 (22.7%)Only one service site is available 17 (19.3%)Students set hours via learning contract 13 (14.8%)Alternative assignments are available 4 (16.0%)Service experience limited to 12 times on-site 10 (11.4%)Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 85Reasons for including service-learning. The most common responsesgiven for including service-learning in their courses from respondents whoreported using service-learning (n = 88) included, desire to increase stu-dent learning about aging (n = 67, 76.1%), desire to decrease studentstereotypes about aging (n = 51, 57.9%), community partner interest inservice-learning (n = 29, 32.9%), fulfills school/university requirement ormission (n = 27, 30.7%), and encouraged by school/university (n = 25,28.4%).Service-Learning Reflection: Open-Ended ResponsesParticipants who indicated they used service-learning (n = 88) were askedabout the reflection activities they used with the following prompt: Pleasedescribe the types of reflection assignments you use with your service-learning students. Content analysis of the open-ended responses identifiedseveral key themes regarding respondents reflection activities, includingmode of reflection, timing/frequency of reflection, goals for reflection, andreflection writing prompts.Mode of reflection. Journaling was the most common type of reflectionreported in the open responses (n = 10, 11.4%), followed by in-class discus-sions (n = 8, 9.0%), reflection essays (n = 5, 5.7%), student presentationsand creative projects (n = 4, 4.5%), activity logs (n = 4, 4.5%), and generalreflection questions (n = 1, 1.1%). A few respondents (n = 5, 5.7%) indicatedthat an outside office (e.g., college service-learning director) was responsiblefor administering and evaluating student service-learning reflection.Timing/frequency of reflection assignments. Several respondents indi-cated the frequency with which students were asked to respond to writtenreflection prompts, ranging from immediately after every site experience(n = 1, 1.1%) (i.e., Students complete daily reflection activities in which theywrite their reactions/thoughts/etc.); or weekly (n = 5, 5.7%) (i.e., Theymust submit weekly journal writings while doing the service-learning); toreflection writing prior to and after completing the service (pre/post) (n =3, 3.4%) (i.e., Students are asked about it in their proposed field placementprior to entrance and then after completion); or pre/interim/post (n = 2,2.3%) (i.e., Students wrote journals before, during, and after); or only afterthe final completions of the service experience (n = 6, 6.8%) (i.e., its a termpaper.)Goals for reflection. Several respondents reported specific purposesor goals for their reflection assignments, including having students assesshow the experience related to the course content/learning outcomes(n = 15, 17.0%), perceived benefits of the service (n = 9, 10.2%),expectations/assumptions regarding upcoming service experience and orpopulation to be served (n = 4, 4.5%), applying what they have learned (n =4, 4.5%), feelings/attitudes toward the population or agency served (n = 3,Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 86 R. J. Karasik3.4%), and emotional aspects of service (n = 3, 3.4%), which one respondenttermed, their experience physically, emotionally, and psychologically in thatsetting.Reflection writing prompts. A few respondents included examples ofthe reflective writing prompts they used. One respondent noted, I startby asking the students what their previous experience has been like interms of aging, gerontology, volunteering, and what they are looking for-ward to or afraid of. A second respondent who indicated that service iscoordinated by the college service-learning director reported the followingprompts: How has this experience helped (or not) you to understand theexperiences of [whatever particular group]? Please describe. How has thisexperience connected to the College mission? Finally, another respondentnoted,Some in-class written reflection exercises that are spread throughout thesemester include asking students about (a) their expectations for theirservice-learning project and what they anticipate learning from the expe-rience, (b) what they will do to help make the experience successful,(c) first impressions of the long-term care facility in which they first vis-ited their resident, (d) whether the experience helped bring classroommaterial to life and (e) whether the experience influenced prior attitudesabout aging and older adults.Service-Learning Reflection: Pre-, Interim, and PostFollowing the open-ended question regarding reflection practices, respon-dents using service-learning (n = 88) were asked about their specific pre-,interim, and postreflection activities, as well as how these activities wereassessed.Preservice reflection. Participants were asked about reflection activitiesthey used to prepare students prior to their service experiences. Prereflectionactivities reported included large (full) class discussions (n = 47, 53.4%),in-class orientation (n = 46, 52.3%), on-site orientation (n = 42, 47.7%),directed reading (n = 31, 35.2%), small group discussions (n = 27, 30.7%),learning contracts (n = 26, 29.5%), prereflection journaling (n = 12, 13.6%),and prereflection assessments (n = 11, 12.5%). Only two respondents (2.3%)indicated that no specific prereflection preparation was done.Interim reflection. Participants were asked about reflection and assess-ment activities they used while student service-learning participation wasongoing. Assessment and reflection activities that were ongoing duringthe service experience included large-group discussions (n = 38, 43.2%),journaling (n = 36, 40.9%), formal or informal evaluations by communitypartner (n = 27, 30.7%), small-group discussions (n = 25, 28.4%), directedreading (n = 17, 19.3%), evaluations by students (n = 17, 19.3%), studentDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 87presentations (n = 10,11.4%), review of learning contracts (n = 8, 9.0%),experiential research papers (n = 7, 8.0%), ethical case studies (n = 4, 4.5%),and exam questions (n = 3, 3.4%). Twelve respondents (13.6%) indicatedusing no specific interim method for enhancing or assessing the learningduring the service-learning period.Postservice reflection. Participants were asked about reflection andassessment activities they used after students completed their service experi-ences. Reflection and assessment activities included full class discussions (n= 42, 47.7%), student evaluations (n = 41, 46.6%), student presentations (n= 40, 45.5%), written journals (n = 39, 44.3%), reflection essays (n = 39,44.3%), formal evaluations by community partners (n = 28, 31.8%), expe-riential research papers (n = 27, 30.7%), small-group discussions (n = 24,27.3%), informal evaluations by community partners (n = 23, 26.1%), elec-tronic journaling (n = 23, 26.1%), general course evaluations (n = 23, 26.1%),reflection questions (n = 21, 23.9%), exit interviews with students (n = 15,17.0%), review of learning contracts (n = 13, 14.8%), exam questions (n =8, 9.0%), ethical case studies (n = 6, 6.8%), one-on-one debriefing (n = 2,2.3%), reflection sessions led by peer facilitators (n = 1, 1.1%), faculty obser-vation of student interactions on site (n = 1), and no specific methods used(n = 2, 2.3%).Service-Learning Reflection: JournalingRespondents who indicated they used service-learning (n = 88) were askedto respond to the question, If you use journaling as part of service-learningreflection, what type(s) of journal assignments do you use? (Please checkall that apply). Of those who indicated that they used journals as a formof service-learning reflection (n = 53, 60.2%), the majority (n = 37, 69.8%)indicated that they used open journaling (free flowing, no specific guidesor prompts). Other forms of journaling used included directed writings(respond to prompt relating service to specific course content area) (n =18, 34.0%), double-entry journals (one side to describe experiences/otherrelates to terms/course concepts) (n = 12, 22.6%), critical incident journals(focuses on a specific event that occurs at service site) (n = 7, 13.2%), self-paced directed writings (prompts given ahead of time and student chooseswhen to respond) (n = 6, 11.3%); web-based non-interactive journal (nodiscussion among students) (n = 6, 11.3%), web-based interactive journal(post required entries/respond to other student entries) (n = 4, 7.5%), anddaily activity logs with biweekly reflection (n = 1, 1.9%).Satisfaction With Service-LearningParticipants who indicated they used service-learning (n = 88) were askedabout their level of satisfaction with various aspects of their service-learningexperiences. Overall, respondents reported being somewhat to extremelyDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 88 R. J. Karasiksatisfied with their service experiences (Table 2). Highest levels of satisfac-tion were reported for community partner participation (X = 4.53) andimpact on student learning (X = 4.56). Lowest levels of satisfaction werewith impact on faculty workload (X = 3.51) and support from colleagues(X = 3.96). With regard to the effectiveness of their reflection assignments(n = 73), 23 (31.5%) indicated they were extremely satisfied, 30 (41.1%)were between extremely satisfied and somewhat satisfied, and 14 (19.2%)indicated they were somewhat satisfied. With regard to success in devel-oping students critical thinking skills (n = 74), 28 (37.8%) were extremelysatisfied, 31 (41.9%) were between extremely satisfied and somewhat satis-fied, 10 (13.5%) were somewhat satisfied, 2 (2.7%) were between somewhatsatisfied and somewhat dissatisfied, and 1 (1.4%) were not at all satisfied.Benefits of Service-LearningRespondents who reported using service-learning (n = 88) were askedto respond to the open-ended question, What do you see as the top23 benefits to having gerontology and geriatric students participate inservice-learning? Respondents identified a number of top benefits ofservice-learning along three main areas: benefits to students; benefits tocommunity; and benefits to faculty and academic program.Benefits to students. The majority of benefits identified by respondentswere student focused. Within this area, several key themes emerged. Thefirst key theme revolved around learning benefits and included: hands-on/practical experience (n = 18, 20.5%); reinforce course concepts (n = 16,18.2%); dispel stereotypes about aging (n = 13, 14.8%); integrate researchand theory to practice (n = 9, 10.2%); foster critical thinking, writing, anddeeper learning (n = 6, 6.8%); increase enthusiasm for course material(n = 6, 6.8%); and increase knowledge retention (n = 1, 1.1%). A secondkey theme related to student careers and included increased enthusiasm forthe field of aging (n = 6, 6.8%), experience makes them better practition-ers (n = 5, 5.7%), access to job opportunities and professional networking(n = 3, 3.4%), and opportunities to meet inspirational leaders in field (n = 1,1.1%). The third key theme associated with student benefits focused on per-sonal growth and development. Within this theme, specific benefits includedincreased civic engagement (n = 9, 10.2%), increased student confidence(n = 2, 2.3%), increased feelings of self-efficacy to be able to make a dif-ference (n = 2, 2.3%), and knowledge to plan for ones own future (n = 1,1.1%).Additional benefits. In addition to student benefits, respondents identi-fied a few benefits of service-learning for community partners and for facultyand academic programs. Community partners benefits included service tocommunity (n = 10, 11.4%) and support for interdisciplinary collaborationDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 TABLE2HowSatisfiedAreYouWiththeFollowingAspectsofYourService-LearningExperiences?Notatallsatisfiedn(%)n(%)Somewhatsatisfiedn(%)n(%)Extremelysatisfiedn(%)N/ARatingaverageXTotalresponses(n)Communitypartnerparticipation0(0)0(0)6(8.2)22(30.1)44(60.3)1(1.4)4.5373Effectivenessofreflectionassignments0(0)0(0)14(19.2)30(41.1)23(31.5)6(8.2)4.1373Impactonstudentlearning0(0)1(1.4)7(9.6)15(20.5)50(68.5)0(0)4.5673Impactonfacultyworkload1(1.4)9(12.2)25(33.8)25(33.8)11(14.9)3(4.1)3.5174Studentparticipation0(0)3(4.1)7(9.5)30(40.5)34(45.9)0(0)4.2874Studentfollow-through0(0)3(4.1)8(11)29(39.7)32(43.8)1(1.4)4.2573Successindevelopingstudentscriticalthinkingskills1(1.4)2(2.7)10(13.5)31(41/9)28(37.9)2(2.7)4.1574Successinincreasingstudentssenseofcivicresponsibility1(1.4)2(2.7)8(11)26(35.6)33(45.2)3(4.1)4.2673Successinrelatingkeycourseconceptstoserviceexperiences0(0)2(2.7)9(12.2)24(32.4)38(51.4)1(1.4)4.3474Supportfromcolleagues0(0)6(8.1)15(20.3)36(35.1)24(32.4)3(4.1)3.9674Supportfromschool/university0(0)5(6.9)17(23)24(32.4)27(36.5)1(1.4)4.007489Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 90 R. J. Karasik(n = 1, 1.1%). Faculty and academic program benefits identified includedstudents more likely to become majors/minors/or take more classes inaging (n = 2, 2.3%); and it reduces faculty workload (n = 1, 1.1%). Finally,one respondent (1.1%) noted in this response category that, I see more ben-efits in doing an internship. Service-learning in this field is too much likevolunteer work.Challenges of Service-LearningRespondents who reported using service-learning (n = 88) were askedto respond to the open-ended question, What do you see as the top23 challenges of having gerontology and geriatric students participatein service-learning? Respondents identified a number of top challenges,including factors of logistics, student behavior, faculty workload, communityparticipation, and pedagogy. Two respondents (2.3%) indicated that theyexperienced no challenges with service-learning.Logistical challenges. A number of logistical challenges to using service-learning were identified by respondents, including finding enough appropri-ate service sites (n = 12, 13.6%), initial set up and ongoing coordination ofservice-learning sites (n = 12, 13.6%), student transportation (n = 4, 4.5%),monitoring student experience on site (n = 4, 4.5%), not enough studentswilling to participate (n = 2, 2.3%), lack of funding (n = 2, 2.3%), coordi-nating class times with time on-site (n = 2. 2.3%), and lunch for students(n = 1, 1.1%).Student behavioral challenges. Several challenges relating to studentactions or inactions were identified, including motivating students to committhe time and effort (n = 12, 13.6%), students procrastinating getting startedwith and/or completing their service requirements (n = 7, 8.0%), studentsbeing anxious about working in the community and/or with older adults(n = 6), and lack of student creativity and independence (n = 2, 2.3%).Faculty challenges. In addition to the logistical challenges identifiedabove and the pedagogical challenges identified below, specific facultychallenges included time spent coordinating service experiences (n = 12,13.6%), lack of support and/or recognition for service-learning work by col-leagues and/or administrators (n = 6, 6.8%), and increased time needed forclass preparation, evaluation of service-learning assignments, and mentoringstudents (n = 5, 5.7%).Community challenges. Two challenges associated with working withthe community were noted, including finding suitable agencies willing toparticipate (n = 12, 13.6%), and agency staff having the interest, time, andexperience to work with service-learning students (n = 3, 3.4%).Pedagogical challenges. Two overarching themes were identified asrelating to pedagogy: those related to course learning objectives and thoserelating to service-learning evaluation and reflection. With regard to learningDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 91objectives, these challenges involved creating appropriate service experi-ences and assignments (n = 7, 8.0%), balancing service and class time soas to not lose other key topics (n = 2, 2.3%), and acknowledging that notevery class is a good platform for service-learning (n = 1, 1.1%). Finally,several of the challenges coded as pedagogical related to issues of creat-ing and evaluating students service-learning and reflection (n = 9, 10.2%).Respondent comments regarding these challenges are listed in Table 3.Although this study included only faculty from programs initially iden-tified through the AGHEs (2009) Directory of Educational Programs inGerontology & Geriatrics, the resulting respondents reflect gerontology andgeriatric educators from a range of disciplines (e.g., gerontology, geriatrics,medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, social work, andsociology). The findings suggest similar diversity in the respondents experi-ences with service-learning. For example, though many of the respondentsinclude service-learning in one or more of their classes, the types of classesand the parameters for the service-learning assignments vary considerably.Respondents reasons for including service-learning in their aging courses,however, match closely with the benefits of intergenerational service-learningpreviously identified in the literaturespecifically, increasing student learn-ing about aging and older adults, decreasing students stereotypes aboutaging, providing students with hands on experience in the field, attractingstudents to careers in aging, and serving the community (Blieszner & Artale,2001; Hanks & Icenogle, 2001; Horowitz et al., 2010).With regard to reflection, the majority of respondents who reportedincluding service-learning in their courses indicated they also have studentsengage in some form of critical reflection of their service experiences. Notsurprisingly, however, there was a wide range in the type and implementa-tion of service-learning reflection activities described. Journaling was by farthe most common type of reflection activity reported. Despite the range ofjournaling procedures described in the literature (Bringle & Hatcher, 1999;Hatcher & Bringle, 1997), the majority of respondents indicated using open,free-flowing journaling with no specific guides or prompts. A few respon-dents expressed specific concerns regarding journaling, with one identifyingmaintaining academic rigor with regard to reflections and journals as a topchallenges associated with service-learning.In addition to journaling, several respondents indicated using eitherlarge- or small-group class discussions as a way to encourage interactivereflection of students service-learning experiences. For some, such discus-sions were the sole form or reflection, whereas for others, class (and in somecases web based) discussions were combined with other forms of reflection.As with journaling, some respondents identified challenges using discus-sions. One, in fact, identified the need to make adjustments for individualstudents in terms of comfort in sharing reactions in larger groups/smallergroups as a top challenge associated with service-learning.Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 TABLE3TopTwotoThreeService-LearningChallengesTheme:EvaluationandReflection(n=9)EvaluationItisreallyhardtoevaluatestudentsbasedonpointswhentheyhaveshowngrowth,butmaybenotasmuchgrowthasyouhadhoped.Nowaytoknowif[students]arespendingenoughhoursdoingservice.ReflectionItissomewhatchallengingatfirstforstudentstotaketheirownpersonalobservationsofindividualsandmakeclear,thoughtfulconnectionstotheresearcharticlesthatareassignedintandemsotheyneedcoachingonthatbutoncetheygetittheyfellverypositiveaboutbeingabletoreadthescientificliteratureandthenapplyitintheworldaroundthem.Studentsstrugglewithreflectionandittakesworktohelpthembuildskillswithintrospectionandapplicationofcourseconcepts.Makingadjustmentsforindividualstudentsintermsofcomfortinsharingreactionsinlargergroups/smallergroupsutilizee-journalstohelpwiththisissue.Enablingstudentstoseeaconnectionbetweenacademicresearch/learningandtheirinternshiporcommunityprojectexperiences.Gettingstudentstowriteinareflectivefashionandtomakeconnectionsbacktotheirreadingsandclassdiscussions.Incorporating[student]experiencesintoclassdiscussions.Maintainingacademicrigorwithregardtoreflectionsandjournals.92Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 93Although journals and discussion were the most common forms ofreflection used, respondents indicated a number of alternative modesof reflection, including reflection essays, student presentations, creativeprojects, activity logs, and general reflection questions. Kessler and Burns-Whitmore (2011) found that this variability is neither unusual nor necessarilyproblematic. Rather they encourage exploring and implementing a rangereflective tools that allow for multiple means of expression (p. 68).Along with varying types of service-learning reflection, respondentsreported considerable variation in the timing of reflection activities they used.Although, as noted previously, Hatcher and Bringle (1997) suggested it isimportant to schedule reflection activities on a regular basis, what, specifi-cally, constitutes a regular basis? In this study, all but two of the respondentswho use service-learning included some form of prereflectionrangingfrom class discussions, orientations, learning contracts, and prereflectionjournaling or assessments. Previous studies suggest that prereflection can beparticularly successful in helping students to understand how to do effectivereflection (Stogner, 2004; Viggiana, 2004) and thus can lead to the beneficiallearning outcomes identified previously. Such prereflection activities are alsoin line with Hatcher and Bringles (1997) recommendation that students beprovided with specific guidelines for their reflection activities.In addition to prereflection assignments, the current study found that thevast majority of respondents who engaged their students in service-learningrequired some form of postservice reflection. In fact, the most varied rangeof reflection activities was described for postservice reflection. Often, theseassignments also served as an avenue for faculty to evaluate (grade) studentlearning. Many respondents identified summative reflection activities (e.g.,research papers, reflection essays) that required students to make specificconnections between their service and core class concepts. This is directlyin line with Hatcher and Bringles (1997) recommendation to link the servicereflection to the course learning objectives. The finding is also not surprisinggiven that the most common goal respondents cited for including reflectionwas to have students evaluate how their service experience related to thecourse content/learning outcomes.Falling somewhat behind pre- and postactivities, interim reflection con-ducted during the service-learning period was reported somewhat less oftenbut still by a majority of the respondents using service-learning. Greatervariability in the frequency of these interim reflection activities was alsofoundranging from daily or weekly to a single midterm assessment.The overall type and timing of reflection may be related, at least in part,to the challenges many respondents noted with regard to the amount of timeand effort implementing service-learning experiences and critical reflectionplaces on top of their base workload. Although the majority of respondentswho offer intergenerational service-learning experiences reported high levelsof satisfaction with their experiences, several also noted facing a number ofDownloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 94 R. J. Karasikchallenges stemming both from the logistical and pedagogical requirementsof service-learning.Although some of these challenges (e.g., overcoming students anxietyworking with older adults) are specific to gerontology and geriatrics, manyof the challenges are not. Potential solutions may be found is the growingbody of multidisciplinary service-learning literature. For example, Conway,Amel, and Gerwiens (2009) meta-analysis found that to garner the most ben-efit from service-learning, programs needed to include structured reflectionopportunities. Several sources offer excellent guides to creating structuredreflection (e.g., Ash & Clayton, 2004; Eyler, 2002; Eyler & Giles, 1999; McCreaet al., 2004). In addition, the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse Website ( and the Campus Compact Web site( offer a wealth of information on service-learningpractice in general, and on reflection practice specifically.Despite the considerable variability found in the types and implemen-tation of service-learning reflection activities used in aging courses, thecurrent findings suggest that many gerontology and geriatric educators arecapitalizing on the learning available to their students through intergen-erational service-learning. It is important to note, however, that not allrespondents engaged their students in service-learning, and a few expressedconcerns regarding either its practicality or its appropriateness. Moreover,one respondent who did report using service-learning in at least one coursecommented that, not every class is a good platform for service-learning.Rather, like other pedagogical approaches, one size does not fit all andcareful consideration needs to be given to its implementation and assess-ment, as well as its associated benefits and challenges (Karasik, 2005b;Karasik et al., 2004).Finally, though it was not the specific focus of this study, these findingsalso suggest that not all gerontology educators agree on the parameters ofwhat constitutes service-learning. Indications in some of the responses abovesuggest that some respondents may be equating other forms of experientialeducation (e.g., internships, field experience, practicums, volunteering) withservice-learning. For example, several respondents identified Internship/FieldExperience/Practicum in Aging as a course in which they incorporatedservice-learning. Moreover, several of the open-ended responses regardingrespondents perceptions of the benefits and challenges of service-learningreferred specifically to internships and field experiences rather than service-learning. Although Fisher and Finkelstein (1999) made the compelling casethat some internship experiencesmaywell fit the definition of service-learning,the two are by no means identical in all cases. This is not to suggest thatone form of experiential learning is superior to another, but rather that theyare different in their purpose, goals, focus, implementation, and expectedoutcomes (Furco, 1996). Additional attention to how educators define thevarious forms of experiential education may be helpful to future studies.Downloaded by [National Pingtung University of Science and Technology] at 23:05 21 December 2014 Reflecting on Reflection 95CONCLUSIONService-learning reflection is an important practice that is not as simple orstraightforward as it might sound. To maximize the benefits of intergenera-tional service-learning and minimize the potential risks, considerable thoughtand effort needs to go into designing and implementing reflection prac-tices that can help students harvest the learning in their service-learning.Although faculty who employ intergenerational service-learning in theircourses overwhelmingly report including some form of reflection into thestudent experience, the current findings suggest that more attention needs tobe given to critical reflection practices. 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