Service-Learning: What is it?
Service-learning is a method of experiential education through which students learn and develop through active participation and reflection experiences in thoughtfully organized service which:
- integrates and enhances the academic curriculum of the students
- includes structured time for the students and participants to reflect on the service experience
- is conducted in and meets the needs of a community
- helps to foster civic responsibility
(adapted from the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993)
Service-learning is different from volunteer and co-curricular activities in the following ways:
- Service-learning is an integral part of the course
- Service activities are directly related to curriculum goals
- Reflection is an integral component
- The learning component intentionally fosters a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the community
Service-Learning Standards are identified as:
- Effective service-learning efforts strengthen service and academic learning.
- Model service-learning provides concrete opportunities for youth to learn new skills, to think critically and to test new roles in an environment which encourages risk-taking and rewards competence.
- Preparation and reflection are essential elements in service-learning.
- Students' efforts are recognized by their peers and the community they serve.
- Students are involved in the planning.
- The service students perform makes a meaningful contribution to the community.
- Effective service-learning integrates systematic formative and summative evaluation.
- Service-learning connects school and its community in new and positive ways.
- Service-learning is understood and supported as an integral element in the life of a school and its community. Skilled adult guidance and supervision is essential to the success of service-learning.
- Pre-service and staff development which includes the philosophy and methodology of service-learning best ensure that program quality and continuity are maintained.
(ASLER Standards for School-Based Service-Learning)