Inside Outside: Article Review on “No Significant Difference in Service Learning Online”

Since this was submitted inside of Blackboard you would not be able to see it. (Read below)

I’m going to add my own extra commentary because in addition to a review of the article, I wanted to add reflection and commentary on what parts of the document might benefit an online instructor who is thinking of adding Service-Learning.

I’m calling this inside outside because there is the technical, somewhat dry review, that a person can do and the ‘rubber meets the road’ approach.

  • The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks might be a good resource to add to your list if you’re teaching online.
  • The article mentions a few technical tools from the student perspective that might come in handy when doing Service-Learning.
  • WRITING YOUR OWN REPORT? The author does not take an apologetic view of what I consider two few samples in a case-study; she writes well. The small sample size makes sense. She clearly covers why doing a case study was the best approach. It might be lipstick on a pig, but marketing spin is important.
  • This article is an EXCELLENT example of how our students might excel if you choose to use Service-Learning or experiential assessments.
  • The references are LEGION, so if you’re looking for information on Service-Learning, this could be a great path for you.

While I don’t add it in my dry review (gasp), she does write very well. There is not a lot of extraneous detail. The data and the methodology used is relatively easily understood. All pluses in my book.

Here starts the staid review:

The article takes a standard approach of detailing what Service-Learning is and then jumping into a clear statement of the research. The author provides a pedagogical breakdown of Service-Learning and how students benefit from its use. Furthermore, specifics of using Service-Learning in the online environment are covered.

This area has not been studied to any great depth, but the key point from the article is that over the course of the research performed—a case study—there is no significant difference between what the students experienced in the face-to-face classes and what the online students experienced in those two classes.

The author is a teacher who used her own marketing courses to do the research. She taught two courses exactly alike with the exception that one section of each was delivered in the classroom while the other was delivered via LMS. From her perspective and the supporting data Service-Learning clearly translates into an online environment.

While it is important to note that there are only four total courses studied, 105 junior and senior college students were involved across the four sections. The two courses involved were Marketing Strategy and Marketing Research. The study resulted in four benefits from Service-Learning, also considered experiential learning: “improved academic learning, sense of community, applying practical skills, and critical analysis” (McGorry, S., 2012, p. 46)

The conclusion is drawn from the results of a series of T-tests conducted. The students self-reported their perception of 12 measures that fell into four categories: practical skills, interpersonal skills, citizenship, and personal responsibility.

While there was not a large difference in any of the scores, the online students did feel that communication skills were the most import of the 12 items measured while the face-to-face students ranked applying knowledge to the real world as the most important element.

The article would be a valuable read for anyone considering using Service-Learning in an online environment, but I can summarize what I thought were the best parts of the write up: the references which numbered 43 and ranged from a variety of journals and texts;

Results from this study indicate that future studies should also include an examination of the technological tools applied to facilitate the service learning experience … in an online service learning experience, chat ware may be the most critical to a successful learning experience, whereas in a traditional face-to-face course where students are working with a local client, … features such as file exchange and discussion boards that can be accessed on a handheld device may be more productive than chat ware.
(p. 52)

Teachers who are interested in learning more about Service-Learning and would like to implement it in their online courses may wish to read this article. The data gathered and the 12 areas students were asked to reflect on as well as the areas considered most improved through the use of experiential learning experiences.


McGorry, S. Y. (2012). No Significant Difference in Service Learning Online. Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks16(4), 45-54.