Critical Analysis

Why should faculty do it?

Critical analysis, also called "reflection, "processing" and other combinations of these terms, is thinking about a service experience in order to connect the service experience and the course material. Although one can do this process alone, it is important to share perceptions with others who may have interpreted the experience differently or made different connections. Learning comes through sharing about what we do, not by just doing, nor by just thinking.

Critical analysis is not only a means to integrate service and course content, it is also critical in challenging or reinforcing conclusions which grow out of experience. Students may find their assumptions or philosophies challenged through service-learning and may need to hear other opinions to help understand their experience. Through discussions in an open forum, a student can consider their own experience and conclusions in a broader context. Without thinking about the experience, the service may do more harm than good, especially if it reinforces inaccurate stereotypes.

Effective critical analysis goes beyond the application of concepts learned in the classroom. It promotes good citizenship. SSU's mission statement includes preparing students to be learned people who "will be active citizens and leaders in society," and "are concerned with contributing to the health and well-being of the world at large." Critical analysis can help make the connection between the current experience and broader issues of citizen involvement and action.

Adapted from Eby, John W. Why Service-Learning is Bad 1998, available in the CCE Resource Library. Please contact us to view it.