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  • Definition of Service-Learning

Academic Service-Learning

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  • Definition of Service-Learning

    Service-learning is defined as a “course-based, credit bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs, and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility” (Bringle & Hatcher, 2009, p.38).

    • Credit bearing: For the purposes of the university, there is a credit based incentive attached to service- learning.
    • Organized service activity: Activities are thought out and organized with community partners so that there is a deliberate relationship connecting the service opportunity with course material.
    • Identified community needs: Projects meet need(s) identified by community partners. Projects do not attempt to create a need for the results of service-learning. Instead, projects assist organizations with needs they already have. Communication with community partners is essential.
    • Reflects: Time is spent specifically on reflecting and analyzing the volunteer experience in relation to course content and personal experience.
    • Course content: Service is not simply an added component of a course, but integrated into the course as a tool used to reach course goals.
    • Civic responsibility: Explores the social connections to scholarly research and academic exploration.

    Well-designed service-learning courses engage students in service activities that are mutually beneficial to community stakeholders (e.g., agency, recipients, community) and meet the educational objectives of the course. The educational outcomes are developed through reflection activities (e.g., journals, small group discussions, directed writing) that link the service experience to learning objectives, are guided, occur regularly, allow feedback and assessment, and include the clarification of values (Ash, Clayton, & Atkinson, 2005; Ash & Clayton, 2004;
    Bringle & Hatcher, 1999; Eyler, Giles, & Schmiede, 1996; Hatcher & Bringle, 1997).