What is Service Learning?
Service learning is similar to volunteering and community service with some major differences. While students give of their time and skills to community organizations and non-profits like volunteers, they also must be completing a project (event, research, etc.) that is directly related to their course work or career goals and that meets a defined need at that organization.
Service learning is also differentiated from volunteering because it integrates active reflection and mutual reciprocity. Active reflection is something the student must do before, during, and after their service learning experience. It can include in-class and out-of-class activities that can be directed with or without instructor direction. Students reflect by observing what they are doing, thinking about why it matters, and considering the impact their actions have on the clients of the organization, the organization itself, and themselves as a learner. Mutual reciprocity indicates that the service learning experience is beneficial to all those involved in a balanced way. With this in mind, we are able to turn our community partners from learning laboratories into co-teaching facilities.
Some examples of service learning are:
- IT Students working with ELCA Outreach Center to reorganize their database to better serve the needs of the organization, compile a how-to manual for volunteers to utilize this database effectively, and presented the database and manual to the executive director.
- Horticulture students partnered with Harborside Academy and Kenosha Unified School District elementary schools to plan, build, and plant raised beds, and teach children how to grow food and the importance of nutrition.
For more examples of service learning, please visit our (Archives) page.