What is academic service learning?
Academic service learning is the use of academic concepts and principles in activities that require students to apply what they learn by getting involved in the community. The community can be the community of the school, or some other community in another location. The involvement can come in the form of attendance and participation of students in community-based programs, where students interact with the members of the community. The main aim of academic service learning is to give students a realistic perspective of their learning and its applications.
What is the value of participating in academic service learning?
The value of participating in academic service learning comes in the various benefits to students. Academic service learning leads to realistic application of lessons learned in the classroom. Instead of making students imagine how they might apply what they learn, and instead of using interactive digital technology, students actually learn and apply their learning through personal involvement and interaction with people and communities in the real world. This realistic involvement helps students increase their awareness of real situations where they can practice what they learn from classrooms, and contribute to the improvement of communities.
Academic service learning is also used to increase retention of information given in the classroom. Service learning increases the likelihood that students more effectively remember lessons by making them re-learn, apply and experience their learning through community involvement. Academic service learning requires a level of involvement and participation that is higher than the level of involvement and participation of students in the classroom. The higher level of involvement and participation leads to better knowledge and skills development.
What does one hope to achieve in these types of courses?
Through academic service learning, students develop social skills. In community-based academic service learning, students interact with members of the community. The students increase their use of social skills, thereby developing these skills in a realistic and effective way.
Through academic service learning, students improve self-esteem and develop a sense of importance of the self in society. Students do something meaningful for the community instead of just sitting in the classroom and being passive learners. Academic service learning allows students to see that they are significant in helping communities address their needs.
Academic service learning also enables students to help communities. Service learning provides free service from the students, while the students learn from the community. The students’ volunteer service addresses some of the needs of the communities. Thus, the students and the community mutually benefit from academic service learning.
Why do students decide to participate in service learning?
Students decide to participate in service learning because it provides realistic application of what they learn from the classroom. Academic service learning increases retention of information learned in the classroom. It also allows students to develop social skills. Moreover, academic service learning allows students to develop self-esteem, and help communities that are in need. In enrolling in courses that involve service learning, students can expect to achieve new or better skills, and gain enriching experiences. These benefits make students more competent in the real world.
- Corporation for National & Community Service (2007). The Impact of Service Learning: A Review of Current Research [Opens in New Window]
- New Hampshire Department of Education (2015). Service Learning Information [Opens in New Window]
- O’Grady, C. R. (Ed.). (2014). Integrating service learning and multicultural education in colleges and universities. Routledge.
- Utah State Office of Education (2015). Academic Service Learning [Opens in New Window]
- Waterman, A. S. (Ed.). (2014). Service-learning: Applications from the research. Routledge.
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (2015). Academic Service-Learning Data Collection and Reporting [Opens in New Window]