The Challenges of Using Service Learning in Construction Management Curricula

R. Casey Cline, Michael Kroth


The use of experiential learning as a pedagogical mechanism to facilitate the
learning of skills taught in the classroom has become common in college curricula. Service learning and community engagement models are frequently used to combine academic skills with “real-world” experience to foster understanding, and to largely broaden the perspective of the learner. Service-learning and community engagement are both commonly used in construction management (CM) curricula to allow the CM learner to develop a greater understanding of construction materials, processes, and management techniques presented in CM coursework. CM educators, in an effort to formalize the experiential learning process into course curricula, inaccurately describe the experiential learning project as service-learning rather than community engagement because there is confusion about the parameters differentiating these two experiential models. In fact, many CM courses that include experiential learning are in fact practicing community
engagement and not service-learning. It is the parameters that set these two forms of experiential learning apart that make the practice of using service-learning in CM curricula a challenge.

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