Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1-1-1996

Publication Title

Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

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Service-learning has dramatically increased its impact on the American educational scene during the past few years, and new practitioners are quickly adopting the methods of integrating traditional classroom -based instruction and community service. As might be expected of practitioners, our practices are strong but our theory is sometimes found to be wanting. We have tinkered with methods to perfect practices without understanding the philosophical, psychological and social mechanisms that undergird our practices. For two decades, we have been drawing largely on Dewey, Kolb and Freire for theoretical support for our work. This paper suggests additional theoretical perspectives drawn largely from cognitive psychology and social theory. A number of constructs will be presented including concept formation, selective perception, categorization, critical reflection and mediated learning, each of which helps to explain the transformational nature of experiential education, as well as provide intellectual support for what are currently recognized as "best practices."