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Mindfulness as a Foundation for Reflection: Applying Principles From Dialectical Behavior Therapy to Service-Learning Instruction

Heather A. O'Connor


Service-learning is a high-impact practice through which students participate in service activities and reflect on those experiences to gain a deeper understanding of course content, as well as of their personal values and civic responsibilities. Critical reflection is crucial for service-learning, and many students require guidance in the process. In this essay, I explore mindfulness as the foundation for the meaningful reflection crucial for service-learning and its instruction. To guide the reflection process, I propose the six core mindfulness skills practiced in dialectical behavior therapy as a framework for service-learning activity prompts. I include examples of how the skills can be applied in the classroom, at service sites, and in postservice reflection assignments. I, additionally, share how mindfulness practice enhanced my development as a new instructor. Finally, I propose mindfulness as not only a foundation to service-learning reflection but also as the keystone of all philanthropic behavior.

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service-learning; high-impact practices; mindfulness; reflection

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