What is the service learning pedagogy?
Service learning is a type of experiential learning that engages students in service within the community as an integrated aspect of a course. Students participate in an organized service activity and reflect on that activity to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility. Within service learning, classroom studies complement service within the community and enable students to reflect upon and address local and national social problems. Service learning engages students in active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning experiences that meet identified community needs. Service learning classes are offered in many departments and demonstrate the creative expertise of faculty committed to extending disciplinary work into local communities. Service learning not only changes the way students learn, but it changes society’s view of education and service. In this sense, service learning is a philosophy of education and service to the community.
What is Service Learning?
Service Learning is an academic program which enables students to perform meaningful community service related to their courses. Each semester, many professors at Marquette University offer their students a service option as a means to learn in practice what they are learning in theory in the classroom. Agencies and schools in the community benefit from the services provided by the students and become partners in their education as well. Service learning classes are offered in many departments and demonstrate the creative expertise of faculty committed to extending disciplinary work into local communities. Currently, approximately 1200-1300 students from 55-65 university courses are placed at 100-125 community agencies each semester.
Principles of Good Practice
- Academic credit is for learning, not for service.
- Do not compromise academic rigor.
- Set learning goals for students.
- Establish criteria for the selection of community service placements.
- Provide educationally sound mechanisms to harvest the community learning.
- Provide supports for students to learn how to harvest the community learning.
- Minimize the distinction between the students’ community and classroom learning.
- Re-think the faculty instructional role.
- Be prepared for uncertainty and variation in student learning outcomes.
- Maximize the community responsibility orientation of the course.
Service Learning vs. Volunteerism
Service learning is sometimes compared with internships and clinical placements; it’s often confused with volunteer work. Some of the differences among the various forms of community outreach are as follows:
- Focus is on service; meeting identified agency or community need. Any work may be done, as long as it helps someone.
- Time commitment varies according to desires of volunteer and needs of agency.
- Supervised by agency personnel; no grade given.
- Focus is on both service and learning; meeting community need while keeping in mind goals for learning in the course. Work does not have to relate directly to learning but must not hinder learning.
- Time commitment Based on agency wishes; averages about 2-3 hours per week in Placement Model; varies in other models.
- Supervised by agency personnel; graded by professor based on a tangible demonstration of learning submitted by Service Learner (e.g. paper, oral presentation)
Field Work/Clinical Placements...
- Focus is on learning; practicing skills for profession, usually in helping fields such as nursing, social work, education, dentistry, physical or speech therapy.
- Time commitment varies according to discipline almost always more than service learning.
- Supervised and graded either by MU clinical staff or by qualified person of given profession working in the agency.
- Focus is on learning; practicing skills for future work, e.g. public relations internship.
- Time commitment varies according to department.
- Supervised by agency person; graded jointly by agency person and professor.