Service-learning defined community engagement is the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
Curricular engagement includes institutions where teaching, learning, and scholarship engage faculty, students, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions address community-identified needs, deepen students’ civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being, and enrich the scholarship of the institution.
Service-Learning is a structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and reflection. Students engaged in service-learning provide community service in response to community-identified concerns and learn about the context in which service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their role as community members.
Volunteering focuses on the benefits to the service recipients. The students receive some benefits by learning more about how their service makes a difference in the lives of the service recipients, but there are no specific learning objectives. Service-learning is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of students engaged in service, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled. Service-learning provides structured time for thoughtful planning of the service project and guided reflection by participants on the service experience. Overall, the most important feature of effective service-learning programs is that both learning and service are emphasized.
Principles of Good Practice for Service-learning
- Academic credit is for learning, not for service.
- Do not compromise academic rigor.
- Establish learning objectives.
- Establish criteria for the selection of service placements.
- Provide educationally sound learning strategies to harvest community learning and realize course learning objectives.
- Prepare students for learning from the community.
- Minimize the distinction between the students’ community learning role and classroom learning role.
- Rethink the faculty instructional role.
- Be prepared for variation in, and some loss of control of, student learning outcomes.
- Maximize the community responsibility orientation of the course.
[Howard, J., Service-Learning Course Design Workbook, 2001, pp. 16-19].