Service-learning is a teaching methodology that links community service and academic study so that each strengthens the other. The concept of service-learning is simple. Students provide a service to a community organization as part of an academic course. By combining classroom theories and lessons with real-life experiences, service-learning not only leads students to a greater understanding of the curriculum, but it helps them appreciate the value of civic engagement.
The reciprocal relationship between the college and the community organization must allow both parties to benefit from the experience. Significant reflection on the experience by the student must be built into the service-learning process.
Typically, community service and volunteerism have no specific learning objectives. While these activities frequently provide students with a great learning experience, they assume no measurable and definable academic goals. Every service-learning activity, on the other hand, has carefully spelled-out learning objectives.
Students who partake in internships and field education experiences apply what they have previously learned to real-world situations, focusing on professional preparation. Service objectives are not usually built into these types of opportunities. One of the primary components of service-learning, however, is a set of clearly defined service objectives. Civic engagement and the practice of citizenship are what distinguish service-learning from practical field experience.
One of the key components of service-learning is that all of the parties involved must gain from the experience. If the service-learning project is properly structured and monitored, students, faculty, the college and the community will all profit from the experience. The following highlights some of the benefits: