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Service-Learning Essential Elements

  • Reciprocity - The service and learning must be worthwhile and valuable for both the student and the community.  There must be reciprocity between the server and those served.
  • Reflection - Intentional, systematic reflection of the experience must take place in order to accomplish rational harmony in service-learning experiences.  Reflection within the context of volunteer experience encourages introspective examination of other aspects of the student’s life.
  • Development - Service-learning occurs in different stages: serving to enabling to empowering; observation to experience to leadership.
  • Meaningful Service - Service tasks need to be worthwhile and challenging in order to strengthen critical thinking skills.
  • Diversity - A priority is placed on involving a broad cross-section of students working in diverse settings and with diverse populations within the community.

Service learning is a method by which people learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that -

  • Meet community needs;
  • Are coordinated in collaboration with college and community;
  • Are integrated into each person’s academic curriculum;
  • Provide structured time for a person to think, talk, and write about what he/she did and saw during the actual service activity;
  • Provide people with opportunities to use newly acquired academic skills and knowledge in real life situations in their own communities;
  • Enhance what is taught in college by extending student learning beyond the classroom;
  • Help to foster the development of a sense of caring for others.

Adapted from The Alliance for Service-Learning in Education Reform, May 1993.