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The Impact Of Reflections In Service Learning And Other Undergraduate Team Project Learning

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

New Learning Paradigms I

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1223.1 - 14.1223.11



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Paper Authors


Margaret Huyck Illinois Institute of Technology

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Margaret Huyck is Professor in the Institute of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology. Her areas of expertise include adult development and program evaluation. She has been working with the IPRO Program at IIT for many years. She was a co-PI on an NSF CCLI-1 grant for adapting an EPICS Service Learning Pathway at IIT; and is the PI for a collaborative project funded with an NSF CCLI-2 grant to measure and identify best practices in multidisciplinary teamwork and awareness of ethical issues.

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Kristin Bryant Illinois Institute of Technology

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Kristin is majoring in Psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology.

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Daniel Ferguson Ohio Northern University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Impact of Reflections in Service Learning and Other Undergraduate Team Project on Learning

Keywords: reflections, service learning, multidisciplinary team project learning


These analyses were designed to assess the relationships between written reflective thinking exercises and general learning outcomes in undergraduate multidisciplinary teams that were oriented toward service learning projects or other kinds of projects. Much of the literature on service learning assumes that engaging in reflections is an essential aspect of the educational process, and that engaging in service learning promotes higher level reflective thinking; however, there is little evidence that compares service learning projects with non-service learning projects to test this assertion. We compared learning outcomes for (1) students engaged in service learning projects who a) completed 3 written assignments which each contained one or two reflective thinking questions, or b) did not have this assignment as part of their project work; (2) students engaged in service learning teams and students engaged in other types of teams; (3) service learning teams that did reflections and non-service learning teams that did reflections; and (4) students engaged in service learning teams and students engaged in other teams that did not do reflections. The data were drawn from approximately 800 students who engaged in campus-wide multidisciplinary projects (average size of 12) during the fall 2006 and spring 2007 semesters. Four independent samples t-tests were conducted to assess differences in levels of reflective thinking (where such data were available) and self-assessed competence in communication, teamwork, ethical awareness, and project management. Contrary to expectations, service learning projects do not appear to increase the students’ perceptions of their own performance. Nor could we find any evidence that engaging in the Reflection exercises enhanced self-assessed competence in the domains assessed.

Foundational Research on Reflective Thinking

The concept of reflective thinking has been developed in several theories, empirically supported and almost universally accepted within the field. The foundational theories are in the work of John Dewey4, William Perry11, and King and Kitchener8.

John Dewey was a psychologist, a philosopher, and a voice for educational reform. He saw reflection as an integral part of education and life itself. Dewey described reflection as "an intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between something which we do and the consequences which result"4. His philosophies began the progressive movement in education and influenced all modern educational theories in American in one form or another.

William Perry conducted pivotal research on the development of students over the course of their four years at a university11. The result of Perry’s diligent work and many hours of interviews was a scheme for understanding how college students come to their beliefs about knowledge and

Huyck, M., & Bryant, K., & Ferguson, D. (2009, June), The Impact Of Reflections In Service Learning And Other Undergraduate Team Project Learning Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5133

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