Service-learning is an 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.
Advantages of Service-Learning Courses
Studies indicate that students forget half of what they learn passively, but they remember 90% when they DO the "real thing." An Astin HERI study indicates that service participation shows significant positive effects on all its outcome measurements, including: GPA, writing skills, critical thinking, values, self-efficacy, and leadership.
Types of Service
The nature of the service varies with the discipline - from grant writing and tutoring in composition classes to designing and building playgrounds and special wheelchairs in engineering classes. The service may be in the form of a project such as a marketing plan for a non-profit in a business class or weekly mentoring at an agency or school. In all cases, the service is directly connected to course learning goals and is designed to enhance learning by testing theory or developing skills.