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 citizens. 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 Leadership. Staff assist faculty, students and community organizations in designing, implementing and evaluating service-learning projects.
Reflections from TU Students Engaged in Service-Learning
- “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 (CRMJ 431): Spring 2015
- “There is no way possible for interactions of this magnitude to occur in a classroom, which is why I am eternally grateful for this experience.” -Inclusive Experiences for People with Autism: Opportunities for Participation in Natural Environments: Summer 2015
- "I have grown in an understanding that service learning is integral to the community and its progression. I saw how beneficial teaching art to students who go to school where there is no art program. It is essential for those in the community to use their skills to provide a need that is not filled." - Art and the Child ARED 371.002: Fall 2015 Student Teacher
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.