Combining Service and Learning

Principles for Effective Service-Learning Experiences

These principles are the product of a two-year collaborative process involving seventy-five national and regional organizations committed to community service and experiential education. This final product was created at the 1989 Wingspread Conference, hosted by the Johnson Foundation. The principles are the cumulative best practice wisdom articulated by experienced practitioners and have been adopted by service-learning professionals across the nation as the foundation for effective programs in schools and on campuses.

An effective service-learning program:
  1. Engages people in responsible and challenging actions for the common good.
  2. Provides structured opportunities for people to reflect criticallyon their service experience.
  3. Articulates clear service and learning goals for everyone involved.
  4. Allows for those with needs to define those needs.
  5. Clarifies the responsibilities of each person and organization involved.
  6. Matches service providers and service needs through a process that recognizes changing circumstances.
  7. Expects genuine, active and sustained organizational commitment.
  8. Includes training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognition, and evaluation to meet service and learning goals.
  9. Ensures that the time commitment for service and learning is flexible, appropriate, and in the best interests of all involved.
  10. Is committed to program participation by and with diverse populations.
  • Honnet, E. P., and Poulen, S. J. (1989). A Wingspread Special Report. (Racine, WI: The Johnson Foundation.)
  • Mintz, S. & Hesser, G. (1996). Principles of good practice in service-learning. In B. Jacoby & Associates, Service Learning in Higher Education. (San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.)