Service-learning courses offer a combination of academic content, service experience, and critical reflection. To make service-learning successful, consider the following recommendations from Barbara Jacoby, Faculty Associate for Leadership and Community Service-Learning at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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service learning in college
Let’s see a show of hands by those who work at institutions that have developed a comprehensive risk management plan related to service learning and civic engagement. Keep your hand up if you can quickly locate a copy of that plan. And keep your hand up still if you’ve attended a formal training session regarding the risk management plan. Anyone?
More and more colleges and universities are developing general education curricula that include courses involving critical reflection, including how the various disciplines address some of the big questions facing today’s society. But be warned, critical reflection is not for the faint of heart.
While it is easy to see how service-learning meshes with courses in the social sciences, public health and education, can it work equally well in other areas, such as the hard sciences and the humanities?
Yes. While service-learning is not appropriate for every course, it can and does work well in every discipline. No matter the discipline, research has shown that service-learning helps students identify and examine the “big questions” and the social context in which the disciplines are situated.
A biology class works with a local environmental organization to test water samples from the Chesapeake Bay. A graphics design class helps a non-profit organization build a new website. A childhood development class serves as mentors to at-risk students in an after-school program.