Meeting community-identified needs through meaningful service, while achieving learning goals with and through critical reflection.
"a pedagogical approach through which students engage in a service activity that benefits the common good in collaboration with a community partner. The service activity meets course objectives, and through critical reflection students examine the community need and its relation to their own learning."
- Helps to foster civic responsibility
- Increases retention of academic skills
- Engages students in purposeful learning
- Expands the learning environment
- Connects relevancy of academics to the real world
- Reverses student disengagement from schooling
- Improves school/campus/community relations
For resources related to Service-Learning in Higher Education, click here.
Authentic "service" is never something you do to or for someone, but rather with someone. This means that the community is actively involved in determining the service to be rendered.
We are in this together...
Service-learning practitioners understand that there is already a wealth of knowledge present in the community. Community members become partners and are involved from the beginning by sharing their real-life experience and knowledge. Community partners share their expertise about the kinds of service relevant to those being served.
Service-learning bridges two worlds which are often estranged from each other: the Academic and the Community. While there are many types of experiential learning opportunities, service-learning is unique because a community identified need is being addressed. This usually means working with not-for profit agencies and organizations, although there are a few examples of service-learning conducted in partnership with businesses. The main emphasis must be that the service benefits the common good, rather than enhancing profit potential.
Service-learning allows both academic and non-academic learning objectives to come to life. Students find themselves encountering concrete examples of abstract concepts. Practitioners often find that student participation and interest increases dramatically when course goals are matched with real world experiences.
Research studies indicate service-learning increases student learning even when in-class time is reduced as a result of service activities. For research on the usefulness of service-learning as a teaching tool, click here.
In addition, students are guided through structured reflection to express their thoughts about the community need being met; the underlying causes for the need; the benefit their service has had on helping to meet the need; how the service relates to the learning goals of the project/course; and what they learned about themselves. Critical reflection differs from simple reflection because it is used intentionally to generate, deepen and document learning (Clayton, 2008).