Student Life > Service Learning > Volunteerism and Service Learning

Volunteerism and Service Learning

​Service Learning students differ from traditional volunteers.  They are challenged with connecting their service in the community with a particular learning objective in the classroom.  Service Learning is not volunteering. Service learning is a reflective educational experience in which students earn academic credit by participating in meaningful service activities.  Service learning experiences are designed to connect students’ coursework to their roles as citizens.

Service learning is a transformational learning experience that:

  • Makes a connection between service and academic learning objectives.
  • Is based on a reciprocal relationship in which the service reinforces and strengthens the learning and the learning reinforces and strengthens the service.
  • Offers an opportunity for students to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge to real-life situations in their own communities.
  • Allows students structured opportunities to reflect critically on their experiences. 
  • Helps students earn academic credit by demonstrating that they have learned through service rather than simply putting in the hours. 

​Service learning fosters a sense of caring for others and a commitment to social responsibility. There are six essential elements that differentiate Service Learning from traditional volunteerism.

  1. RECIPROCITY: The service and learning must be valuable for both the student and the community.
  2. REFLECTION: Reflections about the experience will encourage critical thinking.
  3. DEVELOPMENT: Service learning occurs in different stages and moves from serving, to enabling, to empowering; from observation, to experience, to leadership.
  4. MEANINGFUL SERVICE: Service tasks should be related to student’s coursework and challenging in order to strengthen students' critical thinking.
  5. DIVERSITY: A priority is placed on students working in diverse settings and with a diverse population.
  6. SUSTAINABILITY: To truly make a difference, long-term benefits to the community, students and faculty should be considered.