service-learning, place-based education, community, civic engagement, environmentalism, collaborative learning


Education | Educational Methods


Melissa Baker-Boosamra


This honors senior project focuses on service-learning in the classroom. Specifically, it uncovers the benefits, harms, and common potential challenges that service learning educators face when implementing community engagement activities in their schools and classrooms. The three areas surrounding this pedagogy research were: (1) impacts of the practice, (2) logistical implementation in the classroom of such projects, and (3) a look into how to suitably sustain this type of involvement for students in a post K-12 education setting.

To ascertain the answers about the impacts of service-learning, literature was compiled into a review, which unpacked terminology and answered the big questions of this research:

  • What are the potential benefits of a curriculum focused around service learning?
  • What are some of the common potential challenges and harms of service learning in the classroom?

Next, a partnership was formed with the Center for Economicology (CFE), a theme school in Grand Rapids Public School District (GRPS) for observations of service learning projects, the opportunity to teach an elaborated service-learning lesson, and for formal interviews. The Groundswell Initiative also served as a partner in researching current student service-projects and initiatives.

Finally, the idea of sustaining this community involvement was explored and shared with students through a presentation of active citizenship at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) with CFE students.