An invitational approach to a service learning program in a university: A critical reflection

Yiu Bun CHUNG, Man Tak YUEN, Chiu Woo CHOW, Julian Yat Cheong LEUNG

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


The implementation of invitational education in Hong Kong has gained momentum in schools in recent years (International Alliance for Invitational Education, 2014; Hong Kong Government, 2006). The philosophy underpinning the approach is built upon the invitational theory of practice (Novak & Purkey, 2001; Purkey, 1978; Purkey, 1991; Purkey & Schmidt, 1987). Invitational education places emphasis on creating a welcoming school climate and an environment that is favorable to fostering students’ learning and development. In practice, the ideals of invitational education are embedded in, and enacted through, five interrelated domains in schools and universities, namely policies, people, processes, programs, and places— the 5Ps (Stanley, Juhnke, & Purkey, 2004). As a belief system for professional practice, invitational education is compatible with other positive and supportive strategies in education, and should be seen as complementary rather than supplementary to those strategies (Purkey & Schmidt, 1996; Stanley et al., 2004). Invitational principles can strengthen the impact of every existing practice in higher education and transform it into a value-added learning opportunity. As a complement to existing practices, invitational education can be an effective means of enhancing students’ feelings of self-worth and emotional connectedness to their educational setting. This can apply particularly in programs for students’ development— such as “service learning.” Service learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that directly address human and community needs (Jacoby, 1996). The aim of service learning is to encourage students’ critical thinking, social awareness, and responsibility through civic engagement (Prentice, Robinson, & Patton, 2012). Astin, Vogelgesang, Ikeda, and Yee (2000) found that college undergraduate student participation in service learning resulted in significant positive effects on their academic performance, values, self-efficacy, leadership, and choice of careers among university students. However, after searching related literature (e.g., Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning ), there has been no investigation into the optimum environment and climate in which service learning can lead to impact on students’ learning and development. Moreover, most of the literature and research on invitational education has focused so far on the K-12 school years, rather than on higher education. This chapter addresses these two deficiencies by exploring the contribution that invitational principles made to a service learning program in one university. The authors share here a post-experience critical reflection on the program and propose a framework for implementing an invitational approach to service learning. Copyright © 2016 Lexington Books.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInvitational education and practice in higher education: An international perspective
EditorsSheila T. GREGORY , Jenny EDWARDS
Place of PublicationLanham, Maryland
PublisherLexington Books
ISBN (Print)9781498514149, 9781498514132
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Chung, Y. B., Yuen, M., Chow, C. W., & Leung, J. Y. C. (2016). An invitational approach to a service learning program in a university: A critical reflection . In S. T. Gregory, & J. Edwards (Eds.), Invitational education and practice in higher education: An international perspective (pp. 201-214). Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.


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