Can service learning cultivate empowering experiences for students? Insight from empowerment pedagogy

Po Ying Amy Ho

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic research


The critical pedagogy advocated by Shor (1992) aims at providing empowering educational experience for students which is participatory, democratic, affective, problem-posing, dialogic and inter-disciplinary. The teaching and learning methods of the service learning subject “You can make a difference to our planet” were very much inspired by this critical, student-centered approach. By direct participation in the collection and distribution of consumable food, students experienced first-hand the magnitude of the food waste problem and came face-to-face with low-income elderly, food vendors, and community volunteers whom they seldom met in their daily life. Grounded in their direct community service experience, students were then given the opportunity to choose and to work on a problem which they had identified through brainstorming and contextual reflection. The service learning experience was empowering since students, tutors and the agency worked together as equal partners to co-create solutions towards environmental sustainability. The engagement with community stakeholders and inter-disciplinary teammates have enabled students to learn the art of compromising and democratic decision-making. The tutors played the role of a facilitator who help students draw upon their diverse knowledge and skills on problem-solving, while maximizing their learning through teamwork, reflection, and actualization of their project plans under practical constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2016 Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Service-Learning (ICSL 2016), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 1-2 Dec 2016
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event2nd International Conference on Service-Learning [ICSL] - , Hong Kong
Duration: 1 Dec 20162 Dec 2016


Conference2nd International Conference on Service-Learning [ICSL]
Country/TerritoryHong Kong


  • Empowerment pedagogy
  • Service learning
  • Environmental sustainability


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