From Service-Learning Wiki
Service-learning is an educational approach that combines service with student learning in a way that improves both the student and the community. Service-learning is oftentimes carried out in schools, and students most commonly provide service to their local community.
Multiple definitions of service-learning are currently in use. Broadly speaking, service-learning is an approach to teaching and learning in which community service experiences are integrated with academic units or lessons. In service-learning, students participate in activities that relate academic learning to real-world issues, “while at the same time making a valued contribution to their neighborhoods and communities.”
The National Youth Leadership Council defines service learning as "a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards."
Goals and benefits of service-learning
Service-learning has been demonstrated to have number of positive impacts. As they participate in their service projects, actively meeting the needs of communities, youth develop practical skills, self-esteem, and a sense of civic responsibility.
Through service-learning students:
- actively construct knowledge;
- make connections between in-school and out-of-school learning;
- develop higher order thinking skills, like synthesis and problem solving; and
- develop as whole persons, in civic and social, as well as academic areas.
Service-learning, if designed and implemented well, is an effective way to meet the demands of the accountability movement and address national and state content and performance standards.
Successful service-learning practice is a multifaceted teaching and learning process. Each service-learning experience is uniquely tailored to meet specific learning goals and community needs. Service-learning practice typically takes the shape of the planning and implementation of a service-learning project. Project activities incorporate curriculum-related learning and many activities are usually carried out outside school premises.
Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice
In order to ensure that service-learning practice realizes its potential for substantial academic and civic outcomes, standards are helpful to integrate best practice. In 2008, NYLC released new K-12 standards, and accompanying indicators, that answer the question, "What is quality service-learning?" These standards were vetted through a nationwide reactor panel process over the course of more than a year.
The eight K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice are:
- Duration and Intensity: Service-learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.
- Link to Curriculum: Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.
- Partnerships: Service-learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.
- Meaningful Service: Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.
- Youth Voice: Service-learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service-learning experiences with guidance from adults.
- Diversity: Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.
- Reflection: Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.
- Progress Monitoring: Service-learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.
Service-learning in America’s schools grew considerably near the the end of the 20th century. While in 1979, only 15 percent of secondary schools offered curriculum-related community service programs, by 1999 service-learning was found in 46 percent of secondary schools and 32 percent of all K-12 public schools.
A national study conducted in 2004 was the first sign of a downward trend in the prevalence of service-learning, with the percentage of all K-12 public schools reporting service-learning falling 28 percent. In 2008, 24 percent of all K-12 public schools and 35 percent of secondary schools offered service-learning opportunities for their students.
While the term service-learning and accompanying definitions, standards, and institutionalization are fairly recent phenomena, elements of service-learning have been practiced across the globe for centuries.
Service-learning has a particularly strong standing across Latin-America. Often referred to as aprendizaje-servicio solidario, the idea of solidaridad and serving a real need of the community, are components Latin American movement. Service-learning here is characterized by mandatory service-learning requirements, incentive-based recognition programs, and the work of nongovernmental organizations and networks.
Read more about service-learning internationally here.
- K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice at National Youth Leadership Council
- What is Service Learning? National Youth Leadership Council. Retrieved April 29, 2008 from http://www.nylc.org/discover.cfm?oid=3152.
- K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. Saint Paul: National Youth Leadership Council, 2008.
- ^ Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1999). In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms. Alexandria, Virginia USA: ASCD - Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.