Many schools and universities are changing their goals for student learning. While students today are still expected to learn important facts, emphasizing the application of this knowledge in a real-life context is on the rise.
Critical thinking, collaboration, experience and reflection are essential tools needed to excel in today’s world. Getting our students familiar with these life skills outside of school or university demands a change in every educator’s paradigm and priorities.
To this end, service-based learning (SBL) – sometimes referred to as “community engagement pedagogies” – is becoming highly valued and implemented in many schools. But why?
To start with, pairing academic learning goals with community and civic engagement can:
In addition, SBL can benefit entire schools and the local communities they engage with and serve.
For students: it gives them the opportunity to gain knowledge, research skills, and experience while working to achieve real community objectives. The experience gained also nicely rounds out their resume.
For educators: it takes teaching to the next level, allowing for better academic knowledge transfer, better assessment and reflection cycles with students that are typical of project-based learning. It also pushes teachers own learning and self-development.
For schools: it raises their visibility and reputation in the community. Service-learning supports the civic engagement mission of educational institutions at all levels, offering students exposure and unique experience needed to get noticed during the college admissions process.
Service-based learning promotes authentic engagement and helps instill a passion for life-long learning in students. Service-learning programs provide an exceptional opportunity for the curriculum to meet community needs.
Educators today have an added responsibility to teach their students how to make ethical decisions. Combined with moral reasoning, a well-designed service-based learning program is a powerful way to inspire students to develop the skills needed to help meet societal needs.
Our future depends upon young people being well prepared the meet the challenges of a future we cannot fully imagine. Students today will be faced with many tough decisions tomorrow. Together, we must make sure they have the knowledge, compassion and real-world experiences to tackle them, and succeed.
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Engaging and inspiring your students toward volunteering and community service projects has never been easier to do, or to track!
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Got a few minutes to spare? Here are a few types and examples of service-based learning.
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