Service learning in the medical curriculum: developing and evaluating an elective experience

Teach Learn Med. Summer 2003;15(3):194-203. doi: 10.1207/S15328015TLM1503_08.


Background: Medical educators are seeking ways to nurture the service commitments of their medical students while promoting interactions with the communities they serve. Service learning is a pedagogy that links community service with academic experience.

Description: The University of Kentucky College of Medicine has developed and implemented an experiential service learning elective. The elective is based in local community agencies where small groups of students perform an asset-needs assessment and design a service project based on their findings. The elective is linked to a behavioral science course that provides accompanying biopsychosocial instruction.

Evaluation: Over the 2-year project period, we used multiple methods (i.e., surveys, interviews, reflection questionnaires, evaluations of student performance, and course evaluations) to gather information on the motivations, observations, and assessments of students, faculty preceptors, and community agency partners.

Conclusion: Linking a service learning elective to a pre-existing course worked well, achieved its objectives, and will be continued

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Planning*
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Planning Techniques
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools, Medical*
  • Social Responsibility