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A Value Added Model of Service Learning in Political Science Courses
Unformatted Document Text:  deliberation -- skills that help students to refine opinions by listening to others, working toward a common set of concerns and priorities, thinking critically about the assumptions that support their concerns and those of others; learning to resolve conflicting areas by working toward consensus; learning to deal civilly with those who disagree; 3) knowledge -- gathering information on issue areas; sharing information and assessing its reliability; detecting political bias and value judgments underlying information; learning which public resources can contribute relevant information and perspectives; 4) action -- determining those groups, public officials, agencies most directly concerned with issues; contacting key players in policy debates; making a proposal and directing it toward relevant players; contacting relevant constituencies; examining public statements and voting records; organizing public meetings. The four areas listed above served as an outline for the course. Early in the semester, students were asked to organize sessions outside of class to identify the kind of concerns they wished to address. Initially, each student assembled an issues portfolio. Each student thus developed a set of public issues that he or she considered to be important. These student portfolios formed the initial set of issues from which the class determined its "general theme" for the semester. During the first part of the semester, students continued to work in small groups in which they shared views on those issues most important to you. The idea in this first part of the class was to determine the general theme of the class' agenda building project. Students were required to focus their efforts on issues that were both controversial and applicable to the Lehigh Valley. Eventually, what emerged through a series of discussions was a theme that centered on town/gown relations, specifically, the increasingly testy relationships between Muhlenberg students and Allentown residents. 21

Authors: Borick, Christopher. and Gambino, Giacomo.
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deliberation -- skills that help students to refine opinions by listening to others, working
toward a common set of concerns and priorities, thinking critically about the assumptions
that support their concerns and those of others; learning to resolve conflicting areas by
working toward consensus; learning to deal civilly with those who disagree; 3) knowledge
-- gathering information on issue areas; sharing information and assessing its reliability;
detecting political bias and value judgments underlying information; learning which public
resources can contribute relevant information and perspectives; 4) action -- determining
those groups, public officials, agencies most directly concerned with issues; contacting key
players in policy debates; making a proposal and directing it toward relevant players;
contacting relevant constituencies; examining public statements and voting records;
organizing public meetings.
The four areas listed above served as an outline for the course. Early in the
semester, students were asked to organize sessions outside of class to identify the kind of
concerns they wished to address. Initially, each student assembled an issues portfolio. Each
student thus developed a set of public issues that he or she considered to be important. These
student portfolios formed the initial set of issues from which the class determined its
"general theme" for the semester. During the first part of the semester, students continued to
work in small groups in which they shared views on those issues most important to you.
The idea in this first part of the class was to determine the general theme of the class' agenda
building project. Students were required to focus their efforts on issues that were both
controversial and applicable to the Lehigh Valley. Eventually, what emerged through a
series of discussions was a theme that centered on town/gown relations, specifically, the
increasingly testy relationships between Muhlenberg students and Allentown residents.
21


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