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Experiential learning in sociology: Service learning and other community-based learning initiatives

Despite increased popularity and a strong pedagogical tradition, the literature on community-based learning (CBL) initiatives and service learning evidences a certain conceptual imprecision. In the hopes of clarifying definitional ambiguities, we critically review the CBL literature, identifying six distinct types of CBL options and their characteristics. The result is a hierarchy of community-based learning, which while not proposed as a definitive conceptualization, is likely to be useful in terms of curricular development. Using a hypothetical sociology class, the community-based learning options identified (i.e., out-of-class activities, volunteering, service add-ons, internships, service learning, and service learning advocacy) are discussed in terms of their pedagogical differences and associated curricular benefits.