Integrating academic content and service in the community brought my students a sense of connectedness between classroom learning and their personal lives and the lives of others within the larger community. This is the intent of service-learning, and like many other efforts at service-learning, this experience once again engaged students in terms of academic learning as well as affirming their connectedness to the larger community (Stanton, Giles, & Cruz, 1999). How we as faculty can create a setting for this to occur is always challenging and exciting in terms of the unique and creative ways faculty are making these connections for themselves, students and communities. Serendipity has always played a role in creating these opportunities and my experience with this project is a good case in point. The happenstance of a requirement of a grant for interdisciplinary efforts and the nature of the intent to address the health needs of a community in a holistic way all came together to produce a unique opportunity to merge service-learning pedagogy and participatory research methodology. The result was a two pronged finding. On the one hand, service-learning was found to be a significant pedagogical means to teach participatory research as well as other forms of qualitative research methods. On the other, participatory research methodology was found to have commonalities with the process of the service-learning requirements for engaging communities and providing the structure and means for accessing community service for students. The following is a description of these elements and how each contributed to our conceptualizations about the commonalities of participatory research and service-learning.
Blundo, Robert, "Participatory Research and Service-Learning: A Natural Match for the Community and Campus" (2004). Higher Education. 59.