What is Service-Learning?
Service-learning is an educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Source: Bringle & Hatcher, 1996
Service-Learning is Experiential Education
Service-learning is a form of experiential education that:
is developed, implemented, and evaluated in collaboration with the community;
responds to community-identified concerns;
attempts to balance the service that is provided and the learning that takes place;
enhances the curriculum by extending learning beyond the classroom and allowing students to apply what they've learned to real-world situations; and
provides opportunities for critical reflection.
Service-Learning is Different than Other Forms of Experiential Education
If school students collect trash out of an urban streambed, they are providing a service to the community as volunteers; a service that is highly valued and important.
On the other hand, when school students collect trash from an urban streambed, then analyze what they found and possible sources so they can share the results with residents of the neighborhood along with suggestions for reducing pollution, they are engaging in service-learning.
Source: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
Service-Learning is Defined by Three Components
A collaborative partnership between community and university.
Relating course learning objectives to service.
Reflection and assessment leading to a deeper understanding
In short, 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.