Why is service learning important? It is because it gets students to apply the theories learned in real-life situations. Students can do this through volunteering with nonprofit organizations or social service groups. It also allows students to learn more about themselves and their community by fulfilling a community need while meeting their degree or classroom requirements.
Service learning is an educational approach that helps drive home concepts that students learn in class. It is sometimes referred to as civic engagement, advocacy, community learning, community development, philanthropy, volunteerism, and experiential learning. Let’s dive right in!
- Types of service-learning projects
- Service-learning in Education
- Why is service learning important?
Types of Service Learning Projects
Service-learning involves any activity that aims to help the community. There are three main projects related to service-learning:
It is rendered to individuals. It includes undertaking tasks that fulfill someone’s needs, e.g., tutoring younger students, walking foster dogs, or serving meals at the community center. Most psychology and education courses include direct service.
It is done for the benefit of people or the community as a whole. It includes projects such as organizing fundraising events, collecting donations, or even planting trees for the environment. Most indirect service deals with the behind the scenes services. Sociology and environmental studies give the best opportunities for indirect service.
This involves students’ participation in activities vying for change. These can be policy or governmental changes and even changes in social issues. Students participate by writing letters to the relevant authorities or conducting peaceful demonstrations for policy changes. Criminal justice and political science students usually do advocacy as a way to implement what they learn.
Service-Learning in Education
It is mainly focused on in college or higher education institutions, but lower education institutions can also implement it, such as those in kindergarten. Starting this method of education when students are young helps them actualize learned concepts early on in life and grow into well-adjusted, more responsible adults. Service-learning for children needs to address age-appropriate topics that fit in with their skills.
Older children, such as those in elementary school, can use service-learning by helping younger ones to read and learn basic skills such as handwashing. They can also act as mentors or yard ‘parents’ to the younger generation. This creates an opportunity for the older students to learn lessons like the importance of patience and understanding.
No matter what stage it is implemented in, it is a fantastic way for students to learn the fundamentals of life, such as collaboration and giving. These skills prepare the children in the classroom and their interactions with others. It also gives them valuable insights into their community and helps them practically apply their knowledge in the real world. Service learning is a sure way to help students become successful adults and people to whom community development is essential.
Why is Service Learning Important?
Educational institutions should emphasize service learning through all levels of education. This is because it benefits more than just the students who get to tick off their syllabus community involvement section. Service-learning benefits the students, the school or learning institution, and the community.
Benefits to Students
Enhances Student Learning and Personal Development
Service-learning gives students the opportunity to learn personal and social skills. Students get to apply the academic knowledge learned in classroom sessions to their communities. This helps deepen their understanding of theoretical concepts by finding ways to use them practically in different situations in an ever-changing environment. These situations enable them to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that benefit themselves and others in the communities.
One of the essential skills students get to learn through service-learning is civic engagement. Close working with community members brings students in touch with different personalities and ways of working. This helps students learn interpersonal, group, and organizational skills. Interacting with diverse community members creates a learning opportunity for students where they get to know how people from different backgrounds live.
It gives students the opportunity to learn more about their personality and how to use their skills and talents to contribute to other communities, enhancing their commitment to community service.
Uses Multiple Intelligences
Service-learning does more than teach students how to apply what they learn in class. Since it is not specific to a single curriculum, it uses and explores the existing curriculum further, opening the students to new curriculums that others use. Since the learning is not focused on a single method, no student group gets left out, and it is a beneficial way to get all students to participate and benefit from the curriculum.
Service-learning activities encourage reflection and can be used to address the different ways that students learn. For example, those working with multiple ethnic groups get to learn about other cultures and histories. The new things they learn inspire reflection and help to broaden the student’s portfolio and increase their knowledge.
The most notable benefit of service-learning is that it helps push the boundaries of traditional learning. Students are grounded in the learning process. Instead of focusing too much on the financial, administrative, and political solutions, it gives students an understanding of education. Students gain knowledge from their teachers and guided interactions with the environment instead of learning the basics from their teachers.
Students also get to develop critical thinking skills that enable them to bring numerous elements of their experience in a meaningful way. They get to learn the basics taught in class, learn how to analyze information to gain more profound meaning, and, most important, learn how to make judgments through combining their class learning and evaluating real-life situations.
Students also get to learn how to think across the traditional academic disciplines. They get more adept at applying and integrating what they’re learning. Service-learning encourages students to expand their minds, think outside the box, use real-world issues to drive their education, and develop problem-solving skills.
Why is service-learning important: Benefits to Schools/ Learning Institutions
Promoting equity and cultural diversity
Schools that promote service-learning facilitate heterogeneous grouping allowing students from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, and different capabilities to work together. This promotion of equity brings diverse student groups together to find solutions to real problems, promoting unity and purpose outside the classroom. The equity goes even further and includes at-risk students and those undergoing special education. It provides extrinsic motivations for these students and helps them develop skills and competencies that enable them to work with their non-disabled counterparts. Schools that use this approach also offer a holistic approach that allows immigrants or exchange students to learn and adapt to the language and culture of the new environments faster.
Schools adopting service learning also foster an environment that appreciates cultural diversity. These schools create an atmosphere of greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures and give their students the ability to relate to and interact with people from diverse backgrounds. Their students can reach out to others in the school and the community and teach them the importance of understanding differences among communities and individual people.
Developing workplace skills
Learning institutions providing service-learning experiences from a young age in student education help foster positive attitudes and necessary skills toward work and the community in their students. According to research, students learn best when using interdisciplinary concepts and processes to function as members of different groups, solve problems, create products that others can use, and relate the work taught in the classroom to the outside world. Schools that provide high-quality service-learning sculpt their students into high-functioning adults and provide them with positive experiences that will help them join the world of work.
Employers are always looking for well-equipped employees who can use modern job skills, such as technical and citizenship skills, such as leadership and critical thinking skills. Service-learning provides a suitable environment for fostering these skills. Schools that offer such services equip their students with all the knowledge they need to be attractive to employers and help prepare them for the career world.
Creating positive experiences for faculty
Schools using service learning benefit more than just the students. The faculty also gets a few benefits from this educational tactic. Service-learning revitalizes the teacher’s efforts, bringing in a breath of fresh air to routine teaching procedures. It brings new directions and increases their confidence in their teaching. It also opens their minds to unique teaching and scholarly methods as they also find new ways to further their knowledge and find new ways to liven their classes.
Service learning also helps reinforce theories and concepts that the teachers teach. Teachers also get a sense of satisfaction from seeing their students use deep learning and apply their skills and knowledge in real-world situations.
The faculty also gets to improve the interaction between them and the students. It also allows the faculty to interact more with the adults and parents to find ways to better student lives both at school and home.
Service-learning also supports faculty teaching by providing accurate, tangible solutions to the theory discussed in classes. Using structured reflection activities that focus on student experiences also supports faculty research and encourages faculty participation with the community.
Some schools that use service-learning also come together through increased faculty and student participation in different communities. This helps strengthen relationships between the other schools and learning institutions, and communities.
Why is service-learning important: Benefits to the Community
Forges a strong community
Service-learning doesn’t only benefit the students and the schools or learning institutions they go to; it also shows its benefits to the community at large. Students and other community members get involved in community activities, becoming more aware of their communities. Members of the community come together and help each other become more conscientious people. It creates a sense of unity in the community, creating a solid community, instilling the habit of performing good deeds to others.
In the school community, service-learning promotes changes in the school culture. It helps in creating new and strong relationships between multiple schools and their communities. The community also becomes a learning environment, benefitting from the schools in its area. Service-learning also promotes the creations of collaborative relationships among the school personnel, teachers, and administrators. It encourages all members in the school community who are participants in service-learning to come together and develop a personal and collective interest in making the whole community beyond the schools better.
Other than the numerous benefits that service-learning directly provides, there are others. It connects students to agencies and nonprofit organizations that require volunteers. This gives the students more room to expand and apply their knowledge. It also provides awareness to the community’s needs and helps open the community members to the services and programs.
In the work environment, service-learning helps bring new perspectives and new methods of doing things to current employees, clients, and volunteers. It also gives future employers and organizations to meet prospective employees and get a feel for their areas of expertise. Service-learning also helps promote responsibility and empathy in the community through civil engagements.
More and more learning institutions are turning to service learning. This is because they all know of the benefits that service-learning has; not only on the students and the schools but also on the community. It is a great way to open students up to community problems and provide them with the tools necessary to help their communities. They get to interact with people from various backgrounds and learn more about different communities and different cultures. It also helps promote an all-inclusive environment. People from all over come together and interact to find standard solutions to problems affecting them without bias or discrimination. As a whole, service-learning helps the entire community and helps prepare students for the world of work; equipping them with necessary skills such as critical thinking that they will need in a real work environment.