Center for Academic Service-Learning

Elements of Service-Learning

Service-Learning is a powerful pedagogy for all disciplines, because...

  1. It connects academic learning and community service. Service-learning provides students with active learning experiences that enhance classroom instructional activities. Through course-relevant community service experiences students engage in real-life application of knowledge while addressing community needs.
  2. It is one of the most appropriate teaching strategies to be used in the technologically intensive curriculae that our educational system will embrace in the 21st century. Service-learning will help maintain the human element in education by letting people communicate with each other through face to face and person to person learning and serving activities.
  3. Academic Service-learning is an excellent alternative to the traditional text-lecture-test approach to instruction. Through the creation of partnerships between universities, K-12 schools, and community organizations, academic service-learning contributes to curriculum enrichment and to the enhancement of the teaching and learning process.

Key elements of service-learning pedagogy:

A service-learning program provides educational experiences:

  1. Under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet actual community needs and that are coordinated in collaboration with school and community;
  2. That are integrated into the students' academic curriculum or provide structured time for a student to think, talk, or write about what the student did and saw during the actual service activity;
  3. That provide a student with opportunities to use newly-acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations in their own communities; and enhance what is taught by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community and help to foster the development of a sense of caring for others.

The core/key elements of service-learning are:

  1. Service activities that help meet community needs that the community finds important, and
  2. Structured educational components that challenge participants to think critically and learn from their experiences.

Activities in service give rise to learning opportunities, and what participants learn further informs their service. Service learning is a continuous process of reciprocity that, when implemented with care and expertise, results in high quality service in communities as well as personal and intellectual development among students.

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