What is it?
Academic service-learning has a strong link with inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and problem-based learning, but distinguishes authentic community needs and issues as the catalyst for lesson-planning and project implementation. Many practitioners believe it is derived from a theory of democratic education and schooling presented through the work of John Dewey. Philosophers Jean Piaget and Alexis de Tocqueville believed learning occurs best when students are actively involved in their own learning and when the learning has a distinct purpose. For further investigation, review the works of John Dewey, and contemporaries service-learning researchers Shelley Billig and Andrew Furco.
AN INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGY
The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (NSLC) defines service-learning as 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.
A METHOD FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
Service-Learning is a method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; is coordinated with an elementary school, middle school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and helps foster civic responsibility; and that is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience. (Community Service Act, 1990, 42 U.S.C., Para. 101)