Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

What is Service-Learning?

what is service-learning? [click here] this is how we think about it. photo cred to brad collett

Service-learning is a course-based experiential learning strategy that engages students in meaningful and relevant service with a community partner while employing ongoing reflection to draw connections between the service and course content. When done well, service-learning has the potential to enhance academic learning, promote civic responsiveness, and strengthen communities.

How does it work?

Service-learning aims to enhance academic learning by challenging students to apply disciplinary knowledge within the context of real-world situations. It involves an instructor working collaboratively with a community partner organization—typically from the non-profit or public sector—to develop and implement a course-based service project for students. The service project is designed in a way as to advance a goal defined by the partner organization while deepening students’ learning in the course. Over the life of the course, the instructor regularly asks students to reflect upon their experiences working on the service project, making meaning of these experiences in light of course concepts.

Why is it so powerful?

Because service-learning addresses actual community needs, it has the potential to engage students’ hearts and minds in ways that other teaching methods may not. In short, service-learning at its best can transform students into life-long learners and change-agents.

Find more information about the benefits of service-learning here.

Definition adapted and insights gleaned from Learn and Serve America, and Jeffrey Howard’s (Ed.), Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning.

S-L Venn Diagram