What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. Service-learning takes place in K-12 schools, in higher education classrooms, and in community-based organizations. ( http://learningindeed.org External Site Link)

  • Serving - The service itself should address a genuine community need, as determined by existing or student-led community assessments. The service should be thoughtfully organized and make a positive contribution toward solving a problem.
  • Linking - In quality service-learning, the service project is designed to meet not only a real community need, but also classroom goals. By ensuring strong connections between the service and the learning, students are able to improve their academic skills and apply what they learn in school to the broader community. Through service-learning, students demonstrate to teachers what they are learning and how they are meeting specific academic standards.
  • Learning - Reflection is a key element of quality service-learning. The teacher structures time and methods for students to reflect on and analyze their service experience. Through this process, students learn and understand the complexity of community issues. In addition, students understand how to view such issues in their broader social, political and economic contexts. Reflection and analysis help reinforce the connection between the students' service and the curriculum content.

"A well-designed service-learning program not only provides the opportunity to serve but also encourages students, through structured reflection, to explore the meaning and moral implications of service. Ultimately, schools with service-learning programs will strengthen democracy and help students meet challenges and opportunities in an interdependent, ever changing world."
Gene R. Carter, Executive Director, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Member, National Commission on Service-Learning