A teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and to strengthen communities. Curriculum includes structured field-based "experiential learning" alongside community partners, which reinforces course learning outcomes.
Example: An Introduction to Mathematical Ideas Course assigns students to select a nonprofit agency that requires statistical research for program evaluation, public needs assessment, or public relations and support. Students assist the agency, based on its need in developing a survey tool, organizing and/or conducting the survey, compiling data, or some combination of these tasks.
Service-Learning vs Community Service
Community Service: Any type of volunteer (unpaid) work/service that provides a tangible benefit to the community.
Example: A group of volunteers partner with their local clean commission to pick up trash along the roadside. (Incidentally, this could be considered a service learning activity for a course is students, then analyze the trash for various reasons, report on their finding and reflect on the litter problems in that area.)
Criteria for Service Learning
Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy through which students learn and develop by designing, organizing, implementing, evaluating and reflecting on meaningful service experiences:
- that meet actual community needs;
- that are coordinated in collaboration with the university and community;
- that are integrated into the students' academic curriculum;
- that provide structured time for thinking about, writing about, analyzing, and discussing what is seen and done in the service learning process;
- that enhance what is taught in the classroom by providing opportunities for students to apply knowledge and skills in real life situations in their own communities;
- that help foster the development of a sense of caring for others; and
- that build a sense of social responsibility and civic understanding.