Faculty Ask: What is Service‐Learning?
"Service‐learning is a process through which students are involved in community work that contributes
significantly: 1) to positive change in individuals, organizations, neighborhoods, and/or larger systems in a
community; and 2) to students’ academic understanding, civic development, personal or career growth, and/or
understanding of larger social issues. This process always includes an intentional and structured
educational/developmental component for students, and may be employed in curricular or co‐curricular
‐ Minnesota Campus Compact, From Charity to Change
Service learning is a tremendously effective method of teaching, learning and reflecting that combines
academic curriculum with meaningful service throughout the community. According to the National Service‐
Learning Clearinghouse, common characteristics of service‐learning include:
• positive, meaningful and real to the participants
• cooperative rather than competitive experiences; promotes teamwork and citizenship
• addresses complex problems in complex settings rather than simplified problems in isolation
• engages problem‐solving in the specific context of service activities and community challenges, rather
than generalized or abstract concepts from a textbook
• students are able to identify the most important issues within a real‐world situation through critical
• promotes deeper learning; there are no "right answers" in the back of the book
• generates emotional consequences, which challenge values and ideas
• supports social, emotional and cognitive learning and development
Service-learning is not:
• An episodic volunteer program
• An add‐on to an existing school or college curriculum
• Completing minimum service hours in order to graduate
• Service assigned as a form of punishment
• Only for high school or college students
• One‐sided: benefiting only students or only the community
"Knowledge without action is not knowledge."
Faculty Ask: What is Service‐Learning? 3.27.08
BENEFITS FOR STUDENTS
As participants in a service‐learning project, students will have the opportunity to:
• Make meaning of theory and retain more relevant information.
• Be more engaged in the course material and look forward to participating in classroom discussions.
• Learn through hands‐on work in a non‐profit community environment.
• Further develop their critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills.
• Improve their self‐confidence when they discover how they can make a difference through active and
meaningful community contributions.
• Gain work experience and make job contacts.
• Learn about the complexities of social injustices and systemic problems.
• Learn about the importance of civic responsibility and become more active citizens.
BENEFITS FOR FACULTY
Faculty members who incorporate service learning into their curriculum will have the opportunity to:
• Enhance their teaching effectiveness by becoming a "facilitator," rather than a "giver," of knowledge.
• Engage students in powerful, interactive classroom discussions that invite new perspectives and
• Identify new areas for research and publication, thus increasing opportunities for professional
recognition and reward.
• Develop more powerful curricula by providing students with a "real world" context for theory and
• Raise awareness of current social issues as they relate to academic areas of interest.
BENEFITS FOR ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS
Academic departments who support service‐learning pedagogy benefit by:
• Increasing their exposure and enhancing their public image within the community.
• Providing students and faculty with opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary activities.
• Attracting more students to Anoka‐Ramsey Community College and their department by
demonstrating that their programs are useful and applicable in the "real world."
BENEFITS FOR COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Service‐learning projects can benefit non‐profit community agencies and their clients by:
• Providing direct aid, human interaction, and personal empowerment to people in need.
• Contributing to community development and renewal through social action research and direct service
• Enhancing local non‐profit agencies' abilities to deliver services to their clients and areas.
• Encouraging an educational partnership between the college and the non‐profit community.
• Building a commitment to lifelong civic responsibility among Anoka‐Ramsey Community College
students, faculty, and staff.
• Strengthening intergenerational bonds to the greater community.
Adapted from Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT) at Appalachian State University:
Faculty Ask: What is Service‐Learning? 3.27.08