Final Exam

LENGTH: 3-4 pages
DUE DATE: Friday, December 11, at 12 p.m.

This is an open book, open note exam.  It is also not a timed exam. Therefore, I expect well-written, well-cited, and proofed essays.

At the onset of the semester, we considered Tania Mitchell’s of criticism of community service as it is traditionally and widely practice, an approach to volunteerism that amounts to nothing more than a “glorified welfare state.” Instead, Mitchell asserts that service learning practitioners should aspire toward a radical and critical approach to community engagement that prioritizes social justice over either service or learning.

Your task for the final exam is to critique Mitchell’s call for critical service learning in 3-4 pages. Use double-spaced lines, standard fonts, and 1-inch margins, and cite — in addition to Mitchell — at least three of the required course readings to support your argument. Touch on all three aspects of Mitchell’s understanding of critical service learning: bringing about social change, redistributing power in the community and between university and community actors, and building authentic relationships.

To assist with your writing of this essay:

  • Write for a generally educated audience, one that has heard of, perhaps even engaged in service-learning, critical or otherwise, but hasn’t read what we’ve read and therefore doesn’t know was much as the students in this course do.  In other words, don’t worry about summarizing Mitchell’s argument.  Presume your reader is familiar with it, and instead focus your energies on critiquing Mitchell.
  • Be aware that your reader hasn’t read the works that we have read, engaged in the discussions we have in this course, or even laid eyes on Highland Park. You need to provide some degree of background and explanation even as you offer comment on critical service learning.
  • To support your arguments, you may (but are not required to) cite your community-based learning experiences, or those of other students so long as they are posted to the course website as field notes. When you use these experiences, you should cite the relevant posts.
  • Don’t try to say everything in this essay. You don’t have the space! And it is far better to have a focused argument that says something with coherent and depth rather than to touch everything but doing so only superficially.
  • Though you must address each aspect of Mitchell’s call for critical service learning, you need not treat each of them equally.  If one engages you more than the other parts of Mitchell’s argument, feel free to write more extensively on it.
  • Note that critique doesn’t mean an essay that is all criticism. It’s okay to find some redeeming value in the thing you are critiquing, and the best critiques offer an argument that would leave the person being critiqued saying, “Yeah, I see your point of view.” In this essay, what you are trying to do is sit at the table with Mitchell and say, “Right on, but have you thought about this?”

Please use Chicago (Turabian) style citation (parenthetical or footnotes) when citing your sources.  (Click here for a guide.)

When you are done with your essay, please upload it to Blackboard. You may upload as many times as you like before the deadline, and I will grade the last upload. If you do not get a confirmation page, feel free to email your essay to me at  I will write back confirmation that I have the essay.

Thanks for a wonderful semester, and have a wonderful winter holiday!