What does Service Learning Mean?



"Service-Learning and Community Colleges: Where We Are" (copyright 1996 AACC)

"From both practical and philosophical viewpoints, service-learning is a teaching and learning experience that defines itself for everyone who takes part in a service-learning program. The response and reflection of participating students, faculty, and community members form their individual definitions. That will be the touchstone for the enduring meaning of service-learning in education."

Because service-learning means different things to different people, no single definition covers all of its many aspects and applications. The interpretations presented here provide a basis for discovering common ground and discussion about the various meanings of service-learning.

...service-learning is both a program type and a philosophy of education. As a program type, [it] includes myriad ways that students can perform meaningful service to their communities and to society while engaging in some form of reflection or study that is related to the service. As a philosophy of education, service-learning reflects the belief that education must be linked to social responsibility and that the most effective learning is active and connected to experience in some meaningful way.

Research Agenda for Combining Service and Learning in the 1990's.

Service-learning appears to be an approach to experiential learning, an expression of values--service to others, which determines the purpose, nature and process of social and educational exchange between learners (students) and the people they serve, and between experiential education programs and the community organization with which they work.

-Timothy Stanton

Service-learning integrates community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community.

Last Modified: 8/5/12