Defining Service-Learning

Service-learning is "a method under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet actual community needs, that are integrated into the students' academic curriculum or provide structured time for reflection and that enhance what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community." (Corporation for National Service, 1990)

Service-learning has been defined as "both a program type and a philosophy of education. As a program type, service-learning includes myriad ways that students can perform meaningful service to their communities and to society while engaging in some form of reflection or study that is related to the service. As a philosophy of education, service-learning reflects the belief that education must be linked to social responsibility and that the most effective learning is active and connected to experience in some way." (Research Agenda for Combining Service and Learning in the 1990s)

Service-learning programs are explicitly structured to promote learning about the larger social issues behind the needs to which their service is responding. This learning includes a deeper understanding of the historical, sociological, cultural, economic and political contexts of the needs or issues being addressed." (Jane Kendall, National Society for Experiential Education, 1990)

Service-learning is "any carefully monitored service experience in which a student has intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what he or she is learning throughout the experience." (National Society for Experiential Education, 1994)