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Service-Learning Definition

A teaching technique in which students participate in a community service activity that is clearly related to the academic objectives of a course and/or major field of study. As a result, students gain relevant, hands-on experience while improving the quality of life of citizens in our region.

The Corporation for National Service (CNS) uses the service-learning definition listed in the 1993 National and Community Service Trust Act.

Service Learning: Federal Definition

What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning combines service to the community with student learning in a way that improves both the student and the community. According to the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993: (23) SERVICE-LEARNING— The term 'service-learning' means a method—

 

A) under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that—

(i) is conducted in and meets the needs of a community;

(ii) is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and

(iii) helps foster civic responsibility; and

 

(B) that—

(i) is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and

(ii) provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience.

 

The purpose of the 1993 Trust Act:

(a)   IN GENERAL- Section 2 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12501) is amended to read as follows:

 

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

(a) FINDINGS— The Congress finds the following:

(1) Throughout the United States, there are pressing unmet human, educational, environmental, and public safety needs.

(2) Americans desire to affirm common responsibilities and shared values, and join together in positive experiences, that transcend race, religion, gender, age, disability, region, income, and education.

(3) The rising costs of postsecondary education are putting higher education out of reach for an increasing number of citizens.

(4) Americans of all ages can improve their communities and become better citizens through service to the United States.

(5) Nonprofit organizations, local governments, States, and the Federal Government are already supporting wide variety of national service programs that deliver needed services in a cost-effective manner.

(6) Residents of low-income communities, especially youth and young adults, can be empowered through their service, and can help provide future community leadership.

 

(b)   PURPOSE— It is the purpose of this Act to—

(1) meet the unmet human, educational, environmental, and public safety needs of the United States, without displacing existing workers;

(2) renew the ethic of civic responsibility and the spirit of community throughout the United States;

(3) expand educational opportunity by rewarding individuals who participate in national service with an increased ability to pursue higher education or job training;

(4) encourage citizens of the United States, regardless of age, income, or disability, to engage in full-time part-time national service;

(5) reinvent government to eliminate duplication, support locally established initiatives, require measurable goals for performance, and offer flexibility in meeting those goals;

(6) expand and strengthen existing service programs with demonstrated experience in providing structured service opportunities with visible benefits to the participants and community;

(7) build on the existing organizational service infrastructure of Federal, State, and local programs and agencies to expand full-time and part-time service opportunities for all citizens; and

(8) provide tangible benefits to the communities in which national service is performed.

Service-Learning

·         Is a method whereby students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of communities;

·         Is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program and the community;

·         Helps foster civic responsibility;

·         Is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the education components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled;

·         And provides structured time for students or participants to reflect on the service experience.