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Service-learning is a teaching approach integrating academic instruction with community service that engages students in civic responsibility, critical and creative thinking, and structured reflection.
Service-learning does not require significant changes to a course's organization, content or pedagogy. Here are some easy steps to make service-learning useful in your courses:
- Have a learning objective in your syllabus, whether devoted to the development of knowledge, skills or values, that mentions service as a means to fulfilling that course objective.
- Be intentional in reinforcing the connections between service and learning to students over the semester. Encourage students to talk about their service in class. Connect their experiences to course content, skills in your field or values that you wish to develop in students. By bringing service up in class, students will begin to make connections between their own service experience and their learning.
- Include an appropriate reflection piece as a graded assignment for students. This not only conveys the importance of service as a part of your course, but also creates a time and space for students to make meaningful connections of their own to their learning and their evolving understanding of a personal vocation.