Deconstructing service-learning: A framework for interior design

Stephanie Watson Zollinger, Denise A. Guerin, Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Caren S. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Service-learning has long been essential to university education. With the literature focusing on extolling its benefits to student learning, little direction is offered to educators interested in approaching a service-learning project. Applying this knowledge to a studio-based field like interior design requires additional adjustments, and questions still abound: What must be considered when integrating service-learning in an interior design curriculum? What are the challenges and opportunities that must be recognized? And, how best can the field take advantage of this teaching pedagogy? As universities are increasing the emphasis on service-learning in their missions, it is appropriate for interior design to start a dialogue around ways to strengthen its associations with service-learning. Drawing from a literature review and three case studies from the interior design program of the University of Minnesota, this paper responds to the above questions and posits that only by deconstructing service-learning projects can educators determine their suitability. The paper proposes a framework, a tool that can guide programs’ decision making of how and if to integrate a service-learning project in their curriculum. The framework consists of four criteria and sets of considerations relevant to each and sheds light on what service-learning projects entail. The authors conclude that educators cognizant of the multiple decisions embedded within each of the criteria (relate to course objectives, apply course knowledge, connect to the community, and reflect on learning) enhance their chances for successful service-learning experiences on all levels: the university, program, students, client, practitioners, and the community at large.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Interior Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009


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