Service-Learning Basics

I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.

~Chinese Proverb

Rational for Service-Learning

"…   service-learning works because it is based on one simple principle: you don't learn the basics by memorizing the basics, but by doing projects in which you utilize the basics. More than any other educational institution, the community college's very mission is enmeshed with a commitment to improve the communities that surround its campuses… The real value, though, lies in enhanced learning."
~Judith S. Berson, "A Marriage Made in Heaven." Community College Journal. June/July 1994

What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning combines civic/community engagement with academic coursework in a way that benefits both the student and the community. It is an effective teaching method to help students become active, responsible citizens.  It exposes students to the needs of the larger society, engages them in addressing those needs through community service, and connects what they learn in the classroom to the real-world.  Students are taught to reflect upon why such conditions exist and what their democratic responsibilities are in addressing them.

What is Reflection?

Structured reflection connects and reinforces in-class work, text book readings, and civic/community engagement experiences. It provides an opportunity to think critically about civic experiences, examine and challenge personal values, beliefs, and opinions. It provides a platform for students to ask questions, share ideas and experiences, challenge current solutions to community issues, and develop plans to address community needs.

Structured reflection provides a way for students to develop a deeper understanding of course subject matter outside the traditional classroom environment. It promotes; interpersonal communication, problem solving skills, self-awareness, and a sense of civic responsibility.

What is the Difference Between Service-Learning, Volunteering, and Internships?

  • Volunteering requires a commitment to serve others, but is not focused on specific educational outcomes for those who do the service, although educational benefits may accrue. Volunteering is not designed to be an academic experience. There is no opportunity for reflection. 
  • Internships are structured experiences in a discipline usually requiring a sequence of prior courses and knowledge base. 
  • Service-learning does not require prior coursework or skill development in order for students to participate in this pedagogy.