SL Scholarship: Service Learning and Group Work Skills

The Nashman Center and the GW community of engaged faculty are looking forward to GW Teaching Day this Friday (Oct 9, 2015). In anticipation of the keynote speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Barkley and her ideas related to involving students in collaborative learning, we found a recently published study worthy of note. The study findings suggest a connection between service learning courses and increases in group work skills.

The study examined several potential learning outcomes of service learning, and found statistically significant evidence for two: civic responsibility and interpersonal skills. The interpersonal skills learning outcome includes competencies like teamwork, leadership, and verbal communication. We encourage you to check it out.

Hébert, A., & Hauf, P. (2015). Student learning through service learning: Effects on academic development, civic responsibility, interpersonal skills and practical skills. Active Learning in Higher Education16(1), 37–49.  Link:

Many service-learning courses engage students in group work relative to their service projects. In fact, for many faculty, students’ ability to work effectively in those teams is an aspect of the course learning goals. It is surprising then that there isn’t more empirical literature connecting these service learning projects to the development of collaboration skills. Given the many fine examples of service learning and group work here at GW, this is a gap in the literature that might be ours to fill.