Service Learning

Summary of reform: Service-learning utilizes experience and practice to engage students in areas that may be difficult to teach through abstract reasoning, such as empathy, civic responsibility, the value of volunteerism. It also claims to enhance outcomes such as critical thinking that are associated with traditional forms of pedagogy and curriculum. Service learning is distinct from community service in that it combines a formal structured learning experience or process through  preparation sessions and reflection experiences. Some distinguish that service learning must be integrated into the formal curriculum and can not be co-curricular programming.

Level of institutionalization:

Service learning is most successful when institutionalized through the development of a center on campus to centralize and support efforts, though it can be integrated by individual faculty members into their classrooms.

Outcomes: Moral development, social and civic responsibility,  

Resistances: Experiential learning has been resisted by some faculty (and students to some degree) since it emphasizes a concrete approach to learning that is in conflict with the traditional faculty culture.

Evolution/History: Service Learning has a long tradition that evolved out of Deweyian notions of thinking by doing. There was a major emphasis on integrating service learning into the curriculum in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It resurged in the early 1990s as a result of President Clinton's National Service Plan, Americorps has been institutionalized at the federal level encouraging the idea of serving and learning.

Link to suggested readings: Articles on Service Learning

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