ITROW Service Learning

 

What is service learning?

 

Service-learning is a teaching method that integrates knowledge and practice by connecting the service experience to the classroom curriculum.  Service learning is always intentionally designed to meet curricular objectives; it is not an end in itself.  Reflection is critical to this process. 

 

Experience and learning are not the same. While experience is a necessary condition of learning, it is not sufficient. Learning requires more than experience, and so one cannot assume that student involvement in the community automatically yields learning. Harvesting academic and/or civic learning from a community service experience requires purposeful and intentional efforts. This harvesting process is often referred to as “reflection” in the service-learning literature.

 

Service learning is:

  • A method of teaching that combines community service with curriculum-based learning, linked to academic content and standards.
  • About students helping to determine and meet real defined community needs.
  • Reciprocal in nature, benefiting both the community and students.
  • An effective way to encourage and foster active citizenship as part of a public education.
  • An approach to teaching and learning that can be used in any curriculum area as long as it is appropriate to the learning goals.

Academic service-learning is not the same as student community service or co-curricular service learning.  Academic service learning makes intentional efforts to engage students in planned and purposeful learning related to the service experiences.   Academic service-learning, illustrated by student community service integrated into an academic course, utilizes the service experience as a course “text” for both academic learning and civic learning.

 

Co-curricular service-learning, illustrated by many alternative spring break programs, is concerned with raising students’ consciousness and familiarity with issues related to various communities.

 

 

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