Service Learning


What is Service Learning?


Service-learning means a method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully organized service that: is conducted in and meets the needs of a community and is coordinated with an institution of higher education, and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students enrolled; and includes structured time for students to reflect on the service experiment.


American Association for Higher Education (AAHE): Series on Service-Learning in the Disciplines (adapted from the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993)


Service-learning is a credit-bearing, 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.


Robert Bringle and Julie Hatcher, A Service Learning Curriculum for Faculty.  The Michigan Journal of Community Service –Learning, Fall 1995, pp.112-122



What is the purpose of Service Learning?


Service-learning seeks to engage individuals in activities that combine both community service and academic learning.  Because service-learning programs are typically rooted in formal courses (core academic, elective, or vocational), the service activities are usually based on a particular curricular concepts that are being taught.


Andrew Furco, “Is Service-Learning Really Better than Community Service?” in Furco, Andrew and Shelly H. Billig, eds. Service-Learning: The Essence of the Pedagogy. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing Inc. 2002. p. 25


What does Service Learning have to do with education?


Service-learning is a teaching method which combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility.  Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community.  


Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges


What are the benefits of Service Learning?


Service-learning is a process through which students are involved in community work that contributes significantly: 1) to positive change in individuals, organizations, neighborhoods, and/or larger systems in a community; and 2) to students’ academic understanding, civic development, personal or career growth, and/or understanding of larger social issues.  This process always includes an intentional and structured educational/developmental component for students, and may be employed in curricular or co-curricular settings.  Even with an expanded vision for the field, service-learning will undoubtedly continue to play a critical role in campus-community collaboration.


Charity to Change, by Minnesota Campus Compact


Note: This information is from Campus Compact, June 2002. 

“Remember, there is no such thing as a single act of kindness: every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

~Scott Adams