A Service-Learning Partnership Between Cal State LA and the Los Angeles County Probation Department: Making the Case for Civic Professionalism

Akhila L. Ananth, Michael Willard, Denise C. Herz


This article provides an overview of the structure and implementation of the Probation Service Learning Program at Cal State LA. We use post-term evaluation reflections completed by students and probation directors to offer insight into the broader application of service-learning programs in criminal justice–related agencies. The findings presented demonstrate that the Probation Service Learning Program at Cal State LA was partially successful. Students showed evidence of connecting civic and personal outcomes as well as personal and academic outcomes; however, the connection was less substantial for academic and civic outcomes. This study underscores the importance of fostering partnerships between academic departments and professional practitioners to build strong curricula, facilitate student transitions into the workplace, and contribute to the broader public good. Additionally, it offers “lessons learned” and recommendations for improving the use of service-learning to achieve a fuller appreciation of civic professionalism for students as they choose their career paths.

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