Service learning is a method of instruction that has the benefit of meeting academic course objectives and helping students develop a sense of engagement and social responsibility. All volunteer hours and service hours are not service learning. Service learning courses should meet the following broad guidelines:
1) service learning is structured within a course and has a formal, academic curriculum that is rooted in the discipline in which the course is being offered;
2) the course contains a set of organized community-based learning activities through which students directly serve a constituency as a means to address an identified community need;
3) the course provides structured opportunities for students to formally connect their service activities to the course curriculum and to broader social issues through reflective methods.
Service-learning is a pedagogy—i.e., a way of teaching and learning—in which faculty members complement students’ in-class learning either with relevant volunteer experience at a local community-based organization or with a community-based project completed on behalf of a non-profit or community group.
In ANY service-learning class, critical reflection (whether in-class conversations, written assignments, or final projects) helps students to “make the connection” between their community-based experiences and class content, enhancing their learning while providing meaningful assistance to the community. In other words, service-learning helps students to learn more while doing good.