What is Service Learning?
Service Learning is a pedagogical approach that combines learning objectives with service objectives to deepen students' understanding in a specified academic discipline. Service Learning is a form of experiential education where students participate in scheduled direct service to enhance learning objectives. Unlike traditional classroom settings, students apply their skills and knowledge outside the classroom by participating in community service projects that benefit the community as a whole. The service meets an actual community need and enhances what is being taught in the classroom.
Students reflect on their experience to link their community service project with their classroom learning. Whether the reflection activities are carried out through reading, writing, doing or telling, students examine their experience and apply their knowledge in real-life situations. Service Learning enriches the learning experience, develops civic responsibility, and strengthens communities.
Why Service Learning?
Service Learning can have positive and powerful effects on students, faculty, and the community. Research demonstrates that Service Learning increases students' cognitive and personal development by fostering skills in critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal perspective-taking, and communications. Service Learning enhances student academic achievement and connects students to their community.
Faculty who teach service-learning courses have found improved student discussion and participation, new opportunities for research and publication, and opportunities for professional recognition and reward. Additionally, Service Learning offers an innovative approach for delivering subject matter, and engages students of all learning styles.
Community organizations benefit from Service Learning by expanding relationships with students and faculty. Students volunteer their time and talent while faculty provides expertise to help organizations achieve goals. Organizations also have the opportunity to educate students and faculty on important community issues.
Fulfillment Through Service-Learning
The Academic Service-Learning Office supports the mission of the International and Experiential Learning Office by incorporating community service, civic engagement, and social awareness and responsibility into the curriculum to enhance student learning and to respond to the needs of the surrounding community.
Within the context of the International and Experiential Learning Office, the Service-Learning Division engages students locally, nationally, a globally performing a wide range of service activities to meet identified community needs. Students enroll in academic service-learning courses as a means of gaining a deeper understanding of course content, acquiring new knowledge, and developing social responsibility. The experience allows students to gain practical experience in their chosen field while they explore and assess their values, ethics and ideas. Additionally, students gain an appreciation for differences between people and make a positive contribution to their community.
Academic service-learning is an educational experience built on a collaborative partnership between a university and the community and links community service and academic study so that each enhances the other. Students work in partnership with nonprofit agencies to help meet community needs by using an asset-based approach. The service is comparable to classroom readings, discussions, and assignments and students earn credit and a grade for the learning, not for the service.
Structured opportunities are provided for students to reflect on their experience and to apply their knowledge and skills in real-life situations and to deepen their learning experience. Reflection activities also provide students with a venue to understand how their experience connects with academic course content.