Service-learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of service-learning. (Jacoby, Service-Learning in Higher Education, 1996).

The Benefits of Service-Learning

Towson University has identified service-learning as a means to help students become engaged and active community members. Service-learning is effective in both instilling civic responsibility in students and helping them comprehend and synthesize course material. Service-learning at Towson is supported by the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility. Staff assist faculty, students and community organizations in designing, implementing and evaluating service-learning projects.

Reflections from TU Students Engaged in Service-Learning

  • “I found the service-learning class of such value because it provided the foundational information about autism and also offered the “real life” experiences of individuals with autism. The combination allowed for me to expand and offer my knowledge, which is something I will carry with me as I move into my career.”-Inclusive Experiences for People with Autism: Opportunities for Participation in Natural Environments

  • “What I have experienced and learned cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom. I’ve learned more in this class—about the criminal justice system, myself and others—than I’ve learned elsewhere. I’d take this class 10 [times] over.” - Criminal Justice outside the Classroom
  • “ I have grown personally from being involved with service-learning by realizing the impact my actions can have on not only other individuals, but also communities. - Art and the Child

How is Service-Learning Different from Other Forms of Experiential Education?

Experiential education offers students the opportunity to practice what they learn from traditional classroom teaching outside in the real word. Community service, internships and service-learning are all forms of experiential education. Service-learning is unique in that it places equal emphasis on enhancing student learning and meeting community needs. Students engaged in service-learning connect academic course content with real-world experience through ongoing reflection.