Service-learning is a method of teaching, learning and reflecting that combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service, frequently
youth service, throughout the community. As a teaching methodology, it falls under the philosophy of experiential education. More specifically, it integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, encourage lifelong civic engagement, and strengthen communities for the common good.
The National and Community Service Act of 1990, which authorized the Learn and Serve Americagrant program, defines service-learning as:
"a method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and helps foster civic responsibility; and that is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience." [42 U.S. Code 12511]
National Youth Leadership Councildefines service learning as "a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards." ["What is Service Learning?" National Youth Leadership Council. Retrieved from [http://www.nylc.org/discover.cfm?oid=3152] on April 29, 2008]
experiential learningand community serviceopportunities. It can be distinguished in the following ways:
* "Curricular connections"- Integrating learning into a service project is key to successful service-learning. Academic ties should be clear and build upon existing disciplinary skills.
Student voice" - Beyond being actively engaged in the project itself, students have the opportunity to select, design, implement, and evaluate their service activity, encouraging relevancy and sustained interest. In community settings, this is alternatively called youth voice.
* "Reflection" - Structured opportunities are created to think, talk, and write about the service experience. The balance of reflection and action allows a student to be constantly aware of the impact of their work.
* "Community partnerships" - Partnerships with community agencies are used to identify genuine needs, provide mentorship, and contribute assets towards completing a project. In a successful partnership, both sides will give to and benefit from the project. In order for this partnership to be successful, clear guides must be implemented as to how often a student engages in service to a particular community agency.
* "Authentic community needs" – Local community members or service recipients are involved in determining the significance and depth of the service activities involved.
* "Assessment" - Well structured assessment instruments with constructive feedback through reflection provide valuable information regarding the positive 'reciprocal learning' and serving outcomes for sustainability and replication.
In 2008, the
National Youth Leadership Councilreleased the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice that used research in the field to determine eight standards of quality service-learning practice. The standards are:
*Link to Curriculum
*Duration and Intensity
Further, to distinguish high quality from low quality service learning experiences, Youth Service California has published the "Seven Elements of High Quality Service Learning" [ [http://www.youthcommunityservice.org/index.php?topic=sl Youth Community Service] ] that include:
* Integrated Learning
* High Quality Service
* Student Voice
* Civic Responsibility
As Defined by Robert Sigmon, 1994:
*Service-LEARNING: Learning goals primary; service outcomes secondary.
*SERVICE-Learning: Service outcomes primary; learning goals secondary.
*service-learning: Service and learning goals completely separate.
*SERVICE-LEARNING: Service and learning goals of equal weight and each enhances the other for all participants.
In this comparative form, the typology is helpful not only in establishing criteria fordistinguishing service-learning from other types of service programs but also in providinga basis for clarifying distinctions among different types of service-oriented experientialeducation programs (e.g., school volunteer, community service, field education, andinternship programs) [Furco, A.(1996) "Expanding Boundaries: Serving and Learning," Florida Campus Compact. ]
Effect on engineering education
Many engineering educators see service-learning as the solution to several prevalent problems in engineering education today. In the past, engineering curriculum has fluctuated between emphasizing engineering science to focusing more on practical aspects of engineering. Today, many engineering educators are concerned their students do not receive enough practical knowledge of engineering and its context. Some speculate that adding context to engineering help to motivate engineering students’ studies and thus improve retention and diversity in engineering schools. Others feel that the teaching styles do not match the learning styles of engineering students.
Many engineering faculty members believe the educational solution lies in taking a more constructivist approach, where students construct knowledge and connections between nodes of knowledge as opposed to passively absorbing knowledge. Educators see service-learning as a way to both implement a constructivism in engineering education as well as match the teaching styles to the learning styles of typical engineering students. As a result, many engineering schools have begun to integrate service-learning into their curricula.
"Service-Learning goes beyond charity or volunteerism. It encourages those involved in service ministry to ask the hard questions and search for real solutions. Service-Learning programs explicitly include features which foster participants' learning about the larger social issues behind the human needs to which they are responding."::Jane C Kendall, "Combining Service & Learning" ["Combining Service & Learning: A Resource Book for Community and Public Service. " (Raleigh: National Society for Internships and Experiential Education, 1990), p. 20.]
"Service-learning makes academic content come alive as students apply their knowledge and skills to real-life situations. Students become more engaged in their studies and see that they can make a difference. Taking an active role in addressing community needs fosters responsible citizenship and contributes to character development."::Jack O'Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction [ [http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr06/yr06rel134.asp California Department of Education] Press release]
State Education Agency K-12 Service-Learning Network(SEANet) is a national network of professionals committed to advancing school-based service-learning initiatives in K-12 schools and school districts all across the country (seanetonline.org). Our members are directors, coordinators, specialists, or other staff working in a State Education Agency (SEA), or in an organization designated by a State Education Agency, who provide leadership in their respective states for the advancement of school-based service-learning. They promote, develop, and expand school-based service-learning to K-12 schools and school districts; they provide direct assistance in the form of technical support and professional development opportunities to local school-community partnerships; and they administer and dissiminate the annual K-12 school-based state formula grants from Learn and Serve America, the primary federal funding source for service-learning. Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse(NSLC) provides the world's largest database of Service-Learning materials, electronic resources, and job listings. It supports and encourages service-learning throughout the United States, and enables over one million students to contribute to their community while building their academic and civic skills. This organization instills an ethic of lifelong community service; supports and encourages service-learning throughout the United States, and enables over one million students to contribute to their community while building their academic and civic skills. By engaging our nation’s young people in service-learning, Learn and Serve America instills an ethic of lifelong community service. [ [http://www.servicelearning.org Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse] Official website] National Service-Learning Partnershipis a national network of members dedicated to advancing service-learning as a core part of every young person's education. Service-learning is a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies or other type of intentional learning activity. The Partnership concentrates on strengthening the impact of service-learning on young people's learning and development, especially their academic and civic preparation.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundationfosters academic service-learning in higher education with awards and grants to students/faculty and their 501(c)(3) community partners who demonstrate best practices or innovative approaches in the field. These programs can be found at [ [http://www.jrcpf.org/programs Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation] Programs] The Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur grant program seeks to motivate students to develop innovative service-learning projects by providing $1,000 grants to the community organization partner of the student with the most innovative proposal in a state-wide or school-wide competition. ServiceBooksponsored and maintained by JRCPF, is the online communityfor academic service learning. JRCPF programs have been held in 16 U.S. states, India and the United Kingdom. [ [http://www.servicebook.org/ ServiceBook] from the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation] [http://www.jrcpf.org/map_us.pdf] [http://www.jrcpf.org/map_world.pdf] The Leadership, Ethics, and Social Action Minorat Indiana University-Bloomington focuses on civic participation, community decision-making, and citizenship skills: how to communicate and organize and lead while serving as a citizen. The LESA program is a chance to develop your own voice and interests while you research, serve, and take action in the community. A student who enjoys thinking and working independently and who would like to develop his or her professional presentation through serving the needs of the community will find opportunities to do so with LESA. Pre-professional students who wish to be involved in a community setting are attracted to the program. Pre-law and pre-med, as well as pre-business, students find opportunities to develop their professional presentation. [ [http://www.indiana.edu/~lesa The Leadership, Ethics, and Social Action Minor] at Indiana University (Bloomington)] Facing the Futuredevelops young people’s capacity and commitment to create thriving, sustainable, and peaceful local and global communities. They do this by equipping teachers and schools with the curriculum and workshops used as strategies to help students, and maintaining an online database of service-learning projects of international and local interest. [ [http://www.facingthefuture.org Facing the Future] Official website]
Youth Service America
National Youth Leadership Council
National Service Learning Conference
Learn and Serve America
* [http://www.servicelearning.org/ Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse] provides the world's largest database of Service-Learning materials, electronic resources, and job listings.
* [http://www.fairfield.edu/svc_index.html Office of Service Learning at Fairfield University]
* [http://www.servicebook.org/ ServiceBook] sponsored and maintained by JRCPF, is the online community for academic service learning.
* [http://www.service-learningpartnership.org/ National Service-Learning Partnership] is a national network of members dedicated to advancing service-learning as a core part of every young person's education. Service-learning is a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies or other type of intentional learning activity. The Partnership concentrates on strengthening the impact of service-learning on young people's learning and development, especially their academic and civic preparation.
* [http://www.ipsl.org The International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership] offers programs uniting academic study and volunteer service to the community in international/ intercultural settings that are models for the practice of service-learning, and promotes the theory and practice of service-learning through research, publications conferences, and training.
* [http://www.stmarytx.edu/slc/ The Service Learning Center at St. Mary's University] is an example of how colleges and universities integrate Service-Learning into their institutions. This is the website of St. Mary's University (TX) and their Service-Learning Center, which was founded in 1994 and has been nationally recognized for its curricular and co-curricular programs. See: [http://www.princetonreview.com/college/research/conscience/ Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement]
* [http://www.nylc.org/ National Youth Leadership Council] provides service-learning training and technical support; hosts The Annual National Service-Learning Conference and The National Youth Leadership Training, and provides an extensive collection of tools, articles, and project examples in its online Resource Center.
* [http://www.learnandserve.org/ Learn and Serve America] is a program of the
Corporation For National and Community Servicethat provides approximately $34 million annually in federal funding for service-learning programs through institutions of higher education, state education agencies, non-profit organizations, and tribes and US territories. These Learn and Serve America, grantees support service-learning programs operated by K-12 schools, community- and faith-based organizations, or higher education institutions and partnering with local community groups. Learn and Serve also supports the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. Learn and Serve America is related to AmeriCorpsand the Senior Corps.
* [http://www.freechild.org/servicelearning.htm Examples of Youth-Led Service Learning] from
The Freechild Projectwebsite.
* [http://www.communityservicelearning.ca/ Canadian Association for Community Service-Learning] The national organisation for community service-learning practitioners and scholars in Canada.
* [http://www.imatterinpark.org/ I Matter in Park website]
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