Is Service Learning the same as community service?

No. Community service focuses solely on serving those in need. Service Learning prioritizes helping others in order to improve a student’s self-awareness and self-concept, having the student gain real-world experience by engaging with local establishments in the community.

I think I’ve heard of this, but is it called something else?

Service Learning has also been referred to as civic engagement, community engagement, experiential learning, or even hands-on learning.

What are the three main aspects to keep in mind when teaching Service Learning?

Service Learning combines (1) service in the community with (2) learning objectives from the classroom, (3) resulting in critical self-reflection.

Isn’t Service Learning just an internship or apprenticeship?

No. There is no money or tangible reward exchanged when students are volunteering in the field in order to help their communities, use their newly acquired academic skills, and learn more about their focus of study.

Why would I even consider Service Learning?

Service Learning has been shown to improve retention at schools and persistence in the classroom because students build a rapport with one another, as well as develop a deeper respect for their communities. Students are equally happy to get out of the classroom and out into the world to do something different than what’s defined in their textbooks. Besides, students see the benefit of spending time in the real world during their community college years, adding their service experiences to their resumes and 4-year college applications. Providing Service Learning assignments benefits the future of your students.

I’m too busy as an educator, so how can I fit Service Learning into my courses that are already running smoothly?

You don’t have to spend any extra time grading because your assignments can be minimal; plus, assignments are active and interactive, making the grading process smoother, maybe even faster. Besides, you may not have to create an entirely new assignment, or if you do, keep it short and sweet, like an extra-credit assignment or something to pose to the students at the end of the semester along with their final. Or, you probably have some terrific assignments set up, and maybe a Service Learning component can be woven into one of those so you don’t have to re-do your curriculum. There are resources here at ACC to help you get started, in addition to already developed assignments and curriculum for all types of courses, so contact us today!

Service Learning sounds like hokum or the trend in education right now; why bother?

Service Learning has been around since Socrates and has continued to grow since the 1960s because it works. Students learn inside and outside of the classroom by studying the world around them through a teacher’s learning outcomes in class, any class. Students want to learn and they want to share what they learn with their peers, their families, and their communities. By helping others, students develop their own “selves,” becoming valuable members to their society and feeling valued in what they do. Because Service Learning matters not just to students but to their local and global community members, it is now and continues to be a progressive and worthwhile approach to teaching and learning.