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Community service learning is the name given to the integration of community service into students’ courses. Community service learning can be seen as a subset of work-integrated learning. Most universities include service to the community in their mission statements. The purpose of service learning is to help the community while also helping students to gain professional skills that they might need in the future. Industry requires university graduates to be equipped with technical knowledge and also with graduate capabilities/attributes and/or generic skills such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

This paper explores business students’ experience of service learning in the community and investigates the attributes that students report they have achieved from their experience. The research argues that service learning can be used to develop the attributes required by university and for industry.

The paper describes how the community service learning subject is offered at Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne, Australia. A content analysis was undertaken of the students’ reflective reports in order to determine the skills that the students recorded that they have developed through their experience. The findings provide insight into the perceptions of students regarding their community engagement experience and how this links to the graduate attributes that the university is trying to develop in students. Billett’s framework for effective incorporation of work integration learning has been used to make recommendations regarding the outcome of community service learning at ACU. Overall, the community service was a positive experience for business students, increasing their confidence and their ability to work with others.

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Journal Article

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