Service Learning


Service Learning 1   Service Learning 2

What is Service Learning?
Service-learning is an experiential learning process through which students are involved in thoughtfully organized community work that makes a difference and contributes significantly to positive change in individuals, organizations, neighborhoods and larger systems in the community. Service-learning integrates community service with academic instruction so that each strengthens the other. It provides structured time for reflective and critical thinking that supports students' further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Service-learning is thoughtfully organized and emphasizes working collaboratively with the community (those receiving the service) in the identification, planning, implementation, and evaluation of the service-learning course and service activities.

Why did Service Learning come to community colleges?
In a July 1999 letter to the chief executive officers of the three higher education segments, Governor Gray Davis re-emphasized the civic education mission of higher education by addressing the need for students to understand the importance of contributing to their communities and those in need. He stated that a service ethic should be taught and acted upon in our public colleges and universities.

In July 2000, the Board of Governors (BOG) of the California Community Colleges passed the Resolution on Community Service which encouraged campuses to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in community service and/or service learning. The resolution also emphasized the BOG's commitment to coordinating campus community service and service learning opportunities with K-12, CSU, and UC community service and service-learning programs.

Does Service Learning make a difference?
Service-learning is increasingly viewed as a pedagogical model that:

  • promotes student persistence and retention;
  • increases course relevancy and provides an experiential learning context;
  • creates positive relationships between the campus and the community, and provides the community with needed assistance to address unmet, critical issues; and
  • fosters a lifelong ethic of service and civic responsibility that carries forth when the student graduates from college.

    (Excerpts from Funds for Student Success Grant 2002)