What Is Service Learning?

Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A.

Young adults categorized as service-learning youth were more likely to report being more satisfied with important aspects of their lives than their service-only and no-service youth counterparts. NYLC  (National Youth Learning  Conference) Summary Report, 2006

Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

Through service-learning, young people—from kindergarteners to college students—use what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. They not only learn the practical applications of their studies, they become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform.

Service-learning can be applied in a wide variety of settings, including schools, universities, and community-based and faith-based organizations. It can involve a group of students, a classroom or an entire school. Students build character and become active participants as they work with others in their school and community to create service projects in areas such as education, public safety, and the environment.

Community members, students, and educators everywhere are discovering that service-learning offers all its participants a chance to take part in the active education of youth while simultaneously addressing the concerns, needs, and hopes of communities.

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse

A majority (70%) of service-learning youths report that service-learning positively affected their leadership ability; which is almost 20 percent higher than their service-only peers.  NYLC  (National Youth Learning  Conference) Summary Report, 2006