Through structured critical reflection activities, students analyze their service experience as it reciprocally applies to their academic and career development. Service-learning presents a unique and enriching learning and personal growth experience
for students while strengthening communities by addressing unmet community needs.
Service-learning benefits students by:
- Enhancing understanding of academic curriculum
- Providing diverse and practical “real-world” experiences
- Encouraging community involvement
- Fostering civic responsibility
- Raising awareness of social justice issues
- Providing career-exploration opportunities
The goal of Service Learning is for students to gain a greater understanding of content knowledge while becoming socially embedded citizens. Critical reflection is a key component and distinguishing feature of a service-learning experience.
Volunteering, Community Service, Internship, or Service-Learning?
Service-learning interns are students, not volunteers. Students have specific learning objectives for their service experience.
- Volunteering is worthwhile unpaid activity.
- Community service is volunteering to fulfill an unmet community need. Participants may learn from their experiences, but not in a formal manner. The primary emphasis is on service, not learning.
- Internships focus on the acquisition of job skills.
- Service-learning is characterized by a deliberate connection between academic curriculum and community service. Students’ service is a component of course curriculum and becomes a vehicle for learning course material. Students reflect on their service, relate it to coursework, and evaluate what they are learning. Service-learning also provides students the opportunity to hone job skills. College credit is earned for the academic coursework, not the service itself.
Examples of Service-Learning
Picking up trash on a riverbank is service … Studying water samples under a microscope is learning … When science students collect and analyze water samples during their cleanup efforts, document their results,
and present findings to a local pollution control agency … that is service-learning.
Hosting a food drive is service … Learning about nutrition is learning … When 3rd grade students collect food donations, sort canned food into the basic food groups to make nutritionally balanced meals, and deliver the donations to the local food bank … that is service-learning.
Most service-learning experiences are incorporated as discrete components or assignments associated with an academic course. ASU’s University Service-Learning courses are unique in that they are stand-alone, credit-bearing, graded courses. Students
provide 70-100 hours of sustained service throughout the semester at an approved Community Partner site and earn 3 credits by completing academic and reflective assignments that relate to their service.