Definition of Service-Learning:

Definition of Service-Learning:

Service-learning practitioners emphasize the following elements in formulating a definition of service-learning:

  • Service-learning involves students (k-college) in community service activities and applies the experience to personal and academic development.
  • Service-learning occurs when there is “a balance between learning goals and service outcomes.”
  •  Service-learning differs from internship experience or volunteer work in its “intention to equally benefit the provider and the recipient of the service as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring” (Furco 5).
  • Service-learning course objectives are linked to real community needs that are designed in cooperation with community partners and service recipients.
  • In service-learning, course materials inform student service and service informs academic dialogue and comprehension.
  • Service-learning engages students in a three-part process: classroom preparation through explanation and analysis of theories and ideas; service activity that emerges from and informs classroom context; and structured reflection tying service experience back to specific learning goals

https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/service_learning/definition.cfm

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Service-learning can be also be described by what it is not; it is NOT volunteerism, community service, internships, or field education. Field education and internships emphasize student learning: while students may provide valuable service, the objective is to provide students hands on experience to further their educational goals. Volunteerism and community service emphasize the service provided: the intended beneficiary is the service recipient (Furco 1996). So while service-learning share some of the components of volunteerism, community service, internships and field education, unlike these activities, service-learning applies equal focus to both learning and the service goals. It requires an academic context and is designed so that that the service and learning goals are mutually reinforcing. A useful distinction among service programs can be typified by whether the beneficiary is the recipient (community agency/member) or provider (student)

https://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/service/what.html

  1. Benefits for Students Participating in Service-Learning Based Programs:

* Academic and intellectual benefits. Service-learning supports young people in mastering important curriculum content by helping them make meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications.

 

* Civic and ethical benefits. Service-learning allows young people to explore and develop skills for a range of ways to serve, including acts of kindness and caring, community stewardship, and civic action.

 

* Social and personal benefits. Service-learning offers young people a holistic learning experience that can increase their engagement in learning, provide them access to adult mentors, bolster their self-confidence, and enhance their preparation for the world of work.

 

  1. Additional Benefits of Participating in Service Learning Projects: At present, research findings indicate that four components of service-learning practice play an important role in students achieving significant and positive outcomes through their service-learning experiences:

 

  • Direct contact between service-learning students and the community members involved in service-learning projects,
  • High-quality student reflection on their work and learning,
  • A direct connection between students’ service-learning experiences, the academic curriculum students must master, and the standards they must meet, and
  • An “intentional” design and implementation, linking service-learning experiences with the student learning they are meant to foster.

 

Billig, S.H. (2010). Research matters. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from http://www.service-learningpartnership.org/site/PageServer

 

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  1. How are Service-Learning and Career Exploration Related?
  • Both rely heavily on learning outside the classroom
  • Expect connections between experiences and subject matter learning
  • Better programs involve students in learning experience, site selection and activities
  • Requires good coordination between school and community
  • Requires good communication between school and community
  • Requires teachers who know how community experiences relate to subjects in school
  • Focuses more on depth and quality than breadth and quantity of learning
  • Provide environments which require social and cognitive learning
  • Produce outcomes which enhance personal, social, psychological, and academic growth
  • Involve adults outside the family in relationships with youth
  • Require problem solving skills which are applied in contexts beyond the classroom
  • Provide career development opportunities
  • Require development of practical skills
  • Both promote citizenship skills; social involvement and productive employment
  • Create great overlap in service occupations.

Hengel, M.S. &Shumer, R. (2012). Career exploration and service-learning. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from http://www.servicelearning.org/instant_info/bibs/k-12_bibs/career

 

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  1. The Critical Role of Reflection about What the Student is Learning
  • Gives meaning to the experience (was goal accomplished, how did we do, how is community served by this, howis this part of a larger effort, etc.)
  • Provides an opportunity to establish expectations (individually, team)
  • Can help volunteers understand the limitations and opportunities of the service site or community organization
  • Relieves tension and provides re-energizing and renewal (especially important when service is emotionally challenging
  • Can create a sense of accomplishment that is crucial, especially where there are limited external rewards
  • Can create a habit of appreciating ourselves
  • Integration of service into the rest of one’s life
  • developing a “spirit” of service and civic-mindednes
  • Improved service
  • As volunteers examine the effects of their behavior, they discover ways to improve the qualityand quantity of their service.
  • Can create a sense of closure, especially important after a long service period, project, or emotional experience.

 

Personal and Team Development:

  • Fosters life-long learning skills – develops an ability to learn from positive and negative experiences
  • “Reality Check” – guards against reinforcing inaccurate perceptions/biases
  • Volunteers gain a broader perspective of other’s experience _ Builds community among the volunteers

Personal Problem solving increases personal empowerment, confidence _

  • Group problem solving creates shared understandings, open communication, and better teamwork
  • Clarifies values as volunteers confront new situations
  • Provides practice clarifying goals and making choices to accomplish these goal
  • Encourages volunteers to do higher level thinking, as they look for root causes of complex issues
  • Acknowledges gained skills gained builds confidence

Northwest Service Academy. (2003). Service reflection toolkit. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from www.northwestserviceacademy.org

 

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