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Service-learning is a teaching strategy that uses meaningful community service, combined with guided reflections, to enrich and enhance student learning. Service-learning incorporates two fundamental components:
Service-learning is a blending of academic study and community service. Academic credit is given for the actual learning that occurs during the volunteering and not just for the clock hours of service to the community. Students can choose to be placed in one of many available nonprofit agencies, educational sites, and government offices. They are then given specific assignments, based on both an academic learning plan and the specific need of the community site.
Service-learning is, therefore, an effort to promote the fact that much learning takes place when we can connect classroom instruction to real-life situations. Furthermore, emphasis is placed on linking what students are doing at their individual sites with broader community issues and involvement.
There are a number of core requirements that students have to meet before they can be given credit for these classes and/or projects. These requirements ensure that students reflect upon what they are doing and evaluate what they are learning.
Volunteering is a worthwhile activity, but we generally do not learn from our volunteering in the same way, nor do we connect it to classroom instruction and academic course content.
Internships place little or no emphasis on the student providing service to the site, whereas service-learning emphasizes the student making a contribution to the community while the student uses the site as a vehicle for learning.