Effective and high-quality service learning requires more than the proverbial “add service and stir” approach to designing courses and programs.
As a dimension of university-community engagement, service learning can be defined as a “course or competency-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students:
- participate in mutually identified service activities that benefit the community, and
- reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility.” (Bringle and Clayton, 2012, adapted from Bringle and Hatcher, 1995—references)
Instructors interested in using service learning as a dimension of their teaching toolkit can use this experiential pedagogy most effectively when they intentionally draw on the Principles of Good Practice in Service Learning (Howard, 2001) course design.