Service-learning is an approach that enriches education by engaging students in meaningful service to their schools and communities through a process that is carefully integrated with established learning objectives. Active engagement in meaningful service enhances academic achievement, citizenship, and leadership development. Service-learning is a form of active learning that values critical thinking and problem solving.
When service-learning is effectively implemented, students gain in measures of academic achievement, citizenship, and leadership competence. There are several components of the service-learning approach:
- Service-learning uses community service as the vehicle for the attainment of students' academic goals and objectives.
- Community service fills a need in the community through volunteer efforts. Service-learning also fills that need, but it uses that need as a foundation to examine ourselves, our society, and our future. Further, service-learning provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations.
- Service-learning identifies in advance, and tracks, specific learning objectives and goals (as well as the intangible ones).
- Students perform a valuable, significant, and necessary service that has real consequence to a community, organization, or other stakeholder group.
- Service-learning enhances student learning by joining theory with experience and thought with action; it also helps students to see the relevance of the academic subject to the real world.
- Service-learning builds leadership competence through practice, reflection and active engagement.