Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Through service-learning, young people-from kindergarteners to college students-use what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. They not only learn the practical applications of their studies, they become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform.
Service-learning can be applied in a wide variety of settings, including schools, universities, and community-based and faith-based organizations. It can involve a group of students, a classroom or an entire school. Students build character and become active participants as they work with others in their school and community to create service projects in areas such as education, public safety, and the environment. Community members, students, and educators everywhere are discovering that service-learning offers all its participants a chance to take part in the active education of youth while simultaneously addressing the concerns, needs, and hopes of communities. Service-learning combines service objectives with learning objectives with the intent that the activity change both the recipient and the provider of the service. This is accomplished by combining service tasks with structured opportunities that link the task to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge content. The distinctive element of service-learning is that it enhances the community through the service provided, but it also has powerful learning consequences for the students or others participating in providing a service.
Why is Service-Learning Important?
A national study of Learn and Serve America programs suggests that effective service-learning programs improve grades, increase attendance in school, and develop students' personal and social responsibility. A growing body of research recognizes service-learning as an effective strategy to help students by:
- Promoting learning through active participation in service experiences;
- Providing structured time for students to reflect by thinking, discussing and writing about their service experience;
- Providing an opportunity for students to use skills and knowledge in real-life situations;
- Extending learning beyond the classroom and into the community; and
- Fostering a sense of caring for others.
Service-learning also strengthens both education and local communities by:
- Building effective collaborative partnerships between schools or colleges and other institutions and organizations.
- Engaging parents and other adults in supporting student learning
- Meeting community needs through he service projects conducted
- Providing engaging and productive opportunities for young people to work with others in their community
To learn more, visit www.servicelearning.org.