What the Heck Is Service Learning?

This is a succinct definition of service-learning, along with resources and information for creating service-learning units.

Service-learning, according to Vanderbilt University, is “a form of experiential education in which learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students strive to achieve real goals for the community while also gaining deeper understanding and skills for their own.”

According to Wikipedia, service learning is “An educational approach that integrates learning objectives with community service to provide a pragmatic and progressive learning experience while meeting the needs of society.”

Although the second definition is easier to comprehend, it appears to be more complicated than it should be. Let’s give it a shot: Students engage in service-learning when they are exposed to real-world problems and learn how to apply educational standards to solve them.

What is the appearance of service-learning?

As many of you are aware, community service has long been regarded as an important component of educational systems. What distinguishes service learning from other forms of learning is how it integrates community service with academic frontloading, assessment, and reflection, all of which are common in project-based learning environments.

The objectives of a service-learning unit are clearly defined. According to the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, there are many different types of projects that can be implemented in classrooms. Students can get involved in more personal issues and face-to-face, such as assisting the homeless. Additionally, students can be involved in indirect ways, such as when they are working on a larger issue or a local environmental problem. Including advocacy in your list can help others learn more about the issues you’re concerned about. A research-based unit, in which students curate and present information in response to public needs, can also be used in this unit.

Service-learning units are something we have a lot of ideas for.

  • A Habitat For Humanity site will be your place of employment.
  • Make sure to bring food bags for those who are hungry on your trip.
  • Adopt-a-Highway.
  • With your younger students, start a tutoring program or read-along buddies with them.
  • Take care of a local beach or park for a small fee.
  • Launch a campaign to raise public awareness of the drought and water scarcity.
  • Create a video conferencing group of “pen pals” with senior citizens to exchange letters.

It is not enough to merely assist others in need. Deep service-learning is not afraid to address the strict standards that must be met in conjunction with the service. Divide your unit into four sections if you find it easier to organize your thoughts.

To begin, ask your students to brainstorm ideas for how they can contribute to their community or the world at large. Your local newspaper may also include news articles about current events from Newsela and CNN Student News, as well as articles about sports and entertainment.

2. Research: Teach your students how to conduct a thorough and efficient search for information. To demonstrate their findings, students should conduct online polls and then create graphs to display the results. Students should use embedded images, graphs, and other multimedia elements to summarise their findings in their final report or presentation. Try out Piktochart, which is an infographic creation tool.

Presenting their findings: Encourage your students to share their findings with their peers and with external stakeholders. Students can use Weebly to create posters to promote their call for action, write a letter campaign, or create a simple website to promote their call for action. Students can present their findings to other students, teachers, and organizations, or they can create screencasts for use on school websites.

4. Reflection: Encourage your students to think about what they learned from this project and write it down. Instruct them to think about the following:


Another aspect that distinguishes service-learning is the multi-stakeholder assessment of students.

Evaluation by the community

Community partners may conduct evaluations of students. The criteria or rubric that will be used to evaluate students may even be able to be modified by them.

Evaluation by the teacher

You could also assess students based on their knowledge of the subject matter. However, you may also want to evaluate them on their writing, graphing, research, and public speaking abilities as well.

Examining the work of students

Students may choose to engage in self-assessment to reflect on their learning. Students may also be asked to contribute to the development of the rubric that will be used by other stakeholders to evaluate them.

This is what it means to be engaged. It is about utilizing a desire to do good in the world to assist children in achieving their educational objectives. It is about instilling empathy and literacy in children. It is about instilling compassion and composing skills in students. It is about advocating for oneself and teaching algebra.

Your thoughts or personal experiences with service learning are welcome. Please leave a comment below.