Definition of Service-Learning
Service-Learning is a structured and research-based teaching method where ACADEMIC STANDARDS and GENUINE COMMUNITY NEEDS are addressed simultaneously and creatively though reciprocal partnerships between classrooms and community organizations.
Service-Learning is structured using the 8 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice: Meaningful Service, Reciprocal Partnerships, Duration & Intensity, Link to Curriculum, Progress Monitoring, Youth Voice,Diversity and Reflection.
STANDARDS FOR QUALITY PRACTICE
Connection to Curriculum - Integrating learning into a service project is key to successful Service-Learning. Academic ties should be clear, build upon existing disciplinary skills, and meet curricular objectives established by state standards, etc.
Meaningful Service - For service to be meaningful, there must be a genuine need that is recognized and valued by those being served. The issues addressed should be personally relevant to students and appropriate to their age and developmental abilities.
Diversity - Students gain an understanding of and respect for multiple perspectives, overcome stereotypes, and develop conflict resolution and group decision-making skills by working with and serving diverse populations. Diversity is measured not just by ethnicity, but also income-level, cultural ties, family structure, age, etc.
Youth Voice - Beyond being actively engaged in the project itself, students have the opportunity to select, design, implement, and evaluate their service activity.
Reciprocal Partnerships in the Community - Partnerships with community agencies are used to identify genuine needs, provide mentorship, and contribute assets toward the completion of a project. In a successful partnership, both sides will give to and benefit from the project.
Duration - Projects that allot an adequate length of time for students to build partnership relationships, address the identified need, meet specific learner outcomes, and allow for reflection and evaluation have a greater impact on students' perception of accomplishment.
Process Monitoring - Objectives should be defined for measuring students' learning as well as the fulfillment of the community need. Students demonstrate their identified learner outcomes through multiple assessment measures and in the process of reflection.
Reflection - Structured opportunities are created to challenge students to examine their personal growth and awareness. Reflection activities can vary (verbal, written, artisitic, and non-verbal) but should be planned before, during, and after the service experience. The balance of reflection and action allows students to constantly be aware of the impact of their work and their increasing knowledge and skills.