Service-learning combines service to the community with student learning in a way that improves both the student and the community. As they participate in their community service projects, actively meeting the needs of communities, youth develop practical skills, self-esteem, and a sense of civic responsibility.
How does service-learning differ from community service or volunteering?
Community service is volunteer action taken to meet the needs of others and better the community as a whole. Service-learning is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of students engaged in service, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled. Service-learning provides structured time for thoughtful planning of the service project and guided reflection by participants on the service experience. Overall, the most important feature of effective service-learning programs is that both learning and service are emphasized. (courtesy www.nylc.org/)
- Meets identified community needs.
- Is coordinated between the University and community partner(s).
- Provides structured time for individuals to reflect about what they did during the service activity and the connection between in-class and out-of-class learning. (Note: efforts should be made to as sure that community partners also have time to reflect with students on the experience.)
- Promotes cognitive as well as affective growth and development.
- Enhances what is taught (and learned) elsewhere by extending the learning environment beyond what is usually consider to be its “normal limits.”
- Helps foster caring for others.
(adapted from AmeriCorps NCCC, Service-Learning Resource Kit)