Overview of Service Learning
Service-learning projects combine coursework with meaningful service activities in such a way so that it benefits both the student and larger community. Service-learning is a research-proven form of experiential learning and has much in common with other high-impact practices such as project-based learning and internships. It can also be combined with other high-impact practices such as study abroad, undergraduate research, first-year seminars, learning communities, and more.
How it works
In a service-learning course, students utilize information learned in the course to better address community need through some form of relevant service. They also use the service experience as a way to better understand the subtleties and value of the content studied in the course. Reflection is integrated throughout the course so that students can more deeply reflect on course content, community need and societal issues (civic learning), and their own service. Thus, both service and learning are enhanced.
Helpful Resources and Links
Fresno State already has a strong support system for faculty and students in developing and completing service learning projects at the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning. Here are some great videos about Service Learning at Fresno State: Overview and testimonials from Faculty and Students (3:58); Helda Pinzon-Perez, Ph.D. (Community Theatre about preventing childhood obesity) (1:20); Ben Boon (Music and Youth Education Center) (2:51)
Several years ago Fresno State partnered with the service-learning travel organization, Madventurer, to bring students and faculty members to the rural village of Naboutini, Fiji. Students work with members of the village for 7-10 days and have completed several projects. For example, over several years, a large community hall (video 5:22) was built in the center of the village and another year outdoor toilets were constructed along with improvements to the village’s water infrastructure. The Fiji international service-learning experience provides students with the opportunity for the exchange of cultures and services. Students create lasting friendships with the members of the village and often say they receive as much as they give. Each day students and faculty gather to reflect on what had been experienced and learned.
For more student stories watch the following two videos of students sharing their experiences.