Home » Strengthening Communities: What is Service Learning and Why is it Important?
Service learning has surged in popularity at high school and college campuses across the country. Sharon Shields of Vanderbilt University has boldly stated that service learning is “one of the most significant teaching methodologies gaining momentum on many campuses.” Before implementing your own program, instructors need to know two important things: what is service learning and what are the types of programs you can implement as an instructor?
The National Service Learning Clearinghouse describes service learning as “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.” In general, service-learning projects have an impact on both student learning and the individuals or community that your class serves.
Service learning is often a collaborative effort between faculty members and community partners. Once a project is identified, students apply their classroom knowledge to community-based initiatives. Students therefore learn class content in real-world contexts while also helping community partners to accomplish desired goals.
Are you an educator who is interested in creating a service-learning program on campus? This list gives an overview of the different types of service learning while providing a sense of how you can use the methodology with your students.
Armed with the “what” and “how” of this teaching methodology, you can design your own direct, indirect, advocacy and research-based projects for your students and community. Is service learning gaining momentum on your campus? Share your project ideas with us in the comments!
Author: Annelise Ferry
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