What is Service-Learning?
Service-learning is a method whereby 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;
helps foster civic responsibility;
is integrated into and enhances the [core] 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.*
Example of Quality Service-Learning
Middle school students at South Tahoe Middle School work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct an in-depth study of a nearby watershed as part of their science curriculum. The students identify what constitutes a healthy watershed, and with the help of the teachers and volunteer biologists, hydrologists, and environmental engineers, the students design a rehabilitation plan to restore degraded areas of the watershed. In their language arts classes, students develop articles and public service announcements to educate the greater community and to highlight the importance of environmental sensitivity.
Service-Learning: Making the Connection
Read more on service-learning and other school reforms in an article by Karen Distler, Missouri Department of Education.
Bring Learning to Life
This public service announcement provides a description of service-learning.
Community service provides opportunities for youth to volunteer and provide service that is of benefit of the community. The primary purpose is to enhance the student's sense of community engagement and volunteerism. The service may be associated with a service course or be extra curricular. In either case, there are no explicit ties to the academic or other content standards.
*Adapted by CalServe, California Department of Education, 1996, from Learn and Serve America, Corporation for National Service, Pocket Guide to Service Learning, Marty Duckenfield and Jan Wright (eds), Clemson SC: National Dropout Prevention Center, 1995.