What is Service Learning?
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Service Learning is “A method under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet actual community needs, that are integrated into the students’ academic curriculum or provide structured time for reflection, and that enhance what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom…”
Service Learning enhances what students are learning in the classroom and gives them the opportunity to actively reflect on learning during their service experience. The service experience provides a context for observing or trying out discipline-based concepts and skills. Likewise, the academic context enriches the service experience by raising questions about real world concerns and providing a forum for probing these concerns in-depth.
Adapted from: Outreach and International Affairs Office, Virginia Tech. Service-Learning Faculty Handbook
Have questions or want to get started in Service-Learning? Contact Karen Balnis, Service Learning and Internship Coordinator in Academic and Career Advising.
The following elements are found in Service-learning Courses
Service that compliments the course or program content and learning goals, meets a community need, has adequate instructor supervision, and is appropriate to the context or students’ lives. Often there is a direct partnership with a community organization.
Planning and Preparation, when possible, should/can involve students in identifying the service, creating a time line, training and orientation.
Reflection that challenges students to think about and beyond their assumptions. Such reflection is facilitated by the instructor and can occur through discussion, reading, writing, and/or projects.
Recognition, formal and informal, as part of the course or program design, that acknowledges the value of student service.
The following examples speak to the kinds of integration and collaboration that can be regarded as essential to Service-Learning education:
- Architecture students research and propose design solutions for a community center.
- Management majors help community members fill out their tax forms.
- Computer science students develop databases for non-profit agencies.
- Biochemistry students conduct seminars for teens on the effects of substance abuse on the body.