Service learning is an effective way to engage students in natural history and ecological courses and develop an environmental ethic of caring. Applied ecology experiences like the one described can enhance
problem-solving and communication skills, technical skills like surveying and analysis, and a commitment to environmental concerns.
According to Russo (2010), service learning “can take students out
of their academic shelter and help them begin to develop a sense of
place – something that is particularly important for developing the
stewardship needed to protect environmental quality.” Putting students in the role of environmental consultant increased eco-literacy
and fostered application of course content, exploration of disciplinary
knowledge, and development of communication skills.
This project enabled students to gain knowledge of ecological the-ories through articles, lectures, and discussions in class (intellectual
engagement). Students also applied course-generated knowledge and
skills and developed solutions in order to address identified community issues (application of knowledge). Lastly, students developed their
oral and written communication skills through translating academic
theory into meaningful dialogue with others.
Association of American Colleges and Universities (2009). Inquiry and
analysis VALUE rubric. https://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics.
Astin, A., Vogelgesang, L., Ikeda, E. & Yee, J. (2000). How service learning
affects students. Higher Education, 144.ht tp://digitalcommons.
Bebbington, A. (2005). The ability of A-level students to name plants.
Journal of Biological Education, 39, 63–67.
Bringle, R.G., Hatcher J.A. & McIntosh, R.E. (2006). Analyzing Morton’s
typology of service paradigms and integrity. Michigan Journal of
Community Service Learning, 13(1), 5–15.
Brail, S. (2013). Experiencing the city: urban studies students and service
learning. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37, 241–256.
Brail, S. (2016). Quantifying the value of service-learning: a comparison of
grade achievement between service-learning and non-service-learning
students. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher
Education, 28, 148–157.
Butin, D. (2005). Service-Learning in Higher Education: Critical Issues and
Directions. New York, NY: Springer.
Celio, C.I., Durlak, J. & Dymnicki, A. (2011). A meta-analysis of the impact of
service-learning on students. Journal of Experiential Education, 34, 164–181.
Desmond, K.J. & Stahl, S.A. (2011). Implementing service learning into
human service education. Journal of Human Services, 31, 5–16.
Eyler, J. & Giles, D.E. (1999). Where’s the Learning in Service-Learning?
San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Ganondagan n.d. http://ganondagan.org/environmental-team. Accessed
February 19, 2018.
Hammond, S.W. & Herron, S.S. (2012). The natural provenance: ecoliteracy
in higher education in Mississippi. Environmental Education Research,
Jacoby, B. (1996). Service-learning in today’s higher education. In B. Jacoby
& Associates, Service-Learning in Higher Education: Concepts and
Practices. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Jacoby, B. (2014). Service-Learning Essentials: Questions, Answers, and
Lessons Learned. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kalles, S. & Ryan, T. (2015). Service-learning: promise and possibility in
post-secondary education. International Journal of Progressive
Education, 11, 132–148.
Knackmuhs, E., Farmer, J. & Reynolds, H.L. (2017). Student outcomes of eco-restoration service-learning experiences in urban woodlands. Journal
of Experiential Education, 40, 24–38.
MacFall, J. (2012). Long-term impact of service learning in environmental
studies. Journal of College Science Teaching, 41(3), 26–31.
McGlynn, T.P. (2008). Natural history education for students heading into
the century of biology. American Biology Teacher, 70, 109–111.
Middendorf, G. & Pohlad, B.R. (2014). Ecoliteracy for ecology and
ecologists: eroded underpinnings. Frontiers in Ecology and the
Environment, 12, 194–195.
Pearson, D.L., Hamilton, A.L. & Erwin, T.L. (2011). Recovery plan for the
endangered taxonomy profession. BioScience, 61, 58–63.
Pilgrim, S., Smith, D. & Pretty, J. (2007). A cross‐regional assessment of the
factors affecting ecoliteracy: implications for policy and practice.
Ecological Applications, 17, 1742–1751.
Russo, R. (2010). Jumping the Ivory Tower: Weaving Environmental
Leadership and Sustainable Communities. Lanham, MA: University
Press of America.
Rutti, R.M., LaBonte, J., Helms, M.M., Hervani, A.A. & Sarkarat, S. (2015). The
service-learning projects: stakeholder benefits and potential class
topics. Education & Training, 58, 422–483.
Stoecker, R. (2016). Liberating Service Learning and the Rest of Higher
Education Civic Engagement. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Tinkler, A., Tinkler, B., Hausman, E. & Strouse, G. T. (2014). Key elements of
effective service-learning partnerships from the perspective of
community partners. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning & Civic
Engagement, 5, 137–152.
CHRISTOPHER R. COLLINS is an Assistant Professor at St. John Fisher
College, Rochester, NY 14618; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. LYNN DONAHUE is
Assistant Director of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at
St. John Fisher College; e-mail: email@example.com
THE AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER IMPROVING ECO-LITERACY THROUGH SERVICE LEARNING