Service Learning is the same as Community Service, right? Well, not exactly. Community Service is helping in the community to fulfill a need or a project. You go, you help – and if you are lucky, you may walk away with a lesson learned. Service Learning is a little more in-depth. It is a method of learning that moves outside the classroom. One has the ability to investigate needs and issues within a community or organization, use problem solving skills to find ways to solve or aid these needs/issues, apply one’s current experiences and knowledge to carry out the project and take time to reflect on accomplishments. Also different from community service, service learning requires the learners to reflect on their project.
When involved in Service Learning, individuals find the need, integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection in order to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen our communities. National Service Learning Clearinghouse. (2013) Learning is interdisciplinary as it typically includes at least two areas disciplines. Students have the opportunity to explore learning, use their expertise and past experiences to aid organizations. It also links coursework with real life experience. Service Learning enhances critical thinking, provides learners with a better understanding of social issues that exist in their communities/surroundings. Art-based service learning experiences can create understanding and empathy for individuals of different backgrounds, allow students to examine the boundary between self and others and promote social responsibility. Boulay & Lynch (2012)
An effective service-learning experience will introduce learners to issues facing a community or organization and prompt them to ask questions, consider the role of service and civic responsibility and reflect on the experience. They should feel a sense of achievement, but Service Learning is not intended to have students believing they have to solve a problem that the community or organization could not solve on their own. Only when students appreciate the larger context of the issues that communities face will they understand how they can have a personal role in making change. Beran & Lubin (2011)
Beran, J. & Luhin, A. (2011) Shifting Service-Learning From Transactional to Relational Best Practices in Working With Community Partners. Journal of Jewish Communal Service (88 – 92)
Boulay, M. & Lynch, K. (2012) Fostering Environmental Stewardship through Creative Expression: Incorporating Art into Service-Learning. Interdisciplinary Humanities (102-114)
What is Service Learning. National Service Learning Clearinghouse. http://www.servicelearning.org/what-service-learning