Service Learning in the Writing Center: Theoretical Connections and Practical Application
Bollinger, Kara Marie
University of Kansas
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In recent years, scholars have begun pushing for a greater connection between academic work and the community outside of academia. Creating a connection can both make work seem more applicable for students and help the university become involved in the surrounding community. Service learning, increasingly popular since the 1990s, is one approach for creating connection between the university and the community. Though service learning occurs in many disciplines, rhetoric and composition scholars have contributed greatly to service learning's scholarship, because in many universities, writing and rhetoric courses are designed to help students become better critical thinkers and better communicators. Little has been written, however, to show possibilities of service learning in writing center work. This thesis makes theoretical connections between service learning theory and writing center theory, showing how many of the tenets of Writing Center work--collaboration, peer relationships, and giving voice to writers among others--fit with some of the main principles of service learning--action and reflection, knowledge creation, empowerment, and reciprocity. Additionally, this thesis describes an outreach program from the University of Kansas to Family Promise of Lawrence, an organization that helps families experiencing homelessness. After presenting the findings of this outreach program, the thesis concludes with suggestions for future writing center programs in the community.
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