Service learning is a learning method that involves students working with community partners to solve real-world issues. It has been shown to have many benefits for students and communities alike. Service learning helps students develop critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills and leadership skills. It also fosters appreciation for cultural diversity and promotes social responsibility and civic engagement.
Service Learning can help students develop critical thinking skills, which are a necessary component of academic learning. It can also increase their ability to analyze complex social problems and work collaboratively with others. For example, when students volunteer to pick up trash at a park, they learn about ecology and pollution and can then apply their knowledge by participating in teacher-led activities that discuss solutions for litter.
As a result, service-learning can help students develop critical thinking skills that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Additionally, it can strengthen ties between students and their community, thereby increasing their interest in social justice and fairness (Eyler, 2009; Sedlak, 2003).
Service learning projects often involve interacting with people from different backgrounds, which can help students develop interpersonal skills. It also helps them understand the value of diversity and appreciate the differences among people. A 2016 study found that students who volunteered for a service learning project had higher levels of empathy than those who did not participate in a service-learning activity.
The study also found that student benefit from course service-learning projects was greater for female students than for males. However, it is important to note that this study did not have a pretest before the course and a posttest after the project was completed.
Service learning combines academic instruction with community service to develop critical thinking, civic responsibility and leadership skills. It fosters a sense of civic engagement and social justice and enhances students’ sense of belonging to their home institution and to the community.
It is a high impact practice that helps prepare students for the job market, with 73% of employers reporting they would like to see “The ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships or other hands-on experiences” emphasized more in higher education (AACU survey).
Service learning is an effective pedagogy that helps students apply their classroom skills to real-world situations. The process can help students develop communication skills that are often overlooked in academics. For example, students might read aloud to older adults at a local nursing home or volunteer at a marine cleanup.
They might also practice their interpersonal oral communication by working with a team on a course project. Research has shown that student-generated service-learning projects can increase interpersonal oral communication self-efficacy and interpersonal communications competence beyond the traditional course research project.
Whether it’s picking up trash at a park or working with a children’s charity, service learning provides students with organizational skills that they couldn’t otherwise acquire in school. That’s according to Alex Segreti and her sister, Carly, who participate in many of their school’s service learning opportunities.
As students learn more about global issues and cultural nuances through service learning, they may develop a deeper understanding of themselves in the context of a diverse world. This may help them become more empathetic and better able to relate to others in their workplaces.
Intercultural communication skills are of utmost importance in the contemporary world as we increasingly live in a more global and multicultural environment. Hence, it is important that we prepare our students with the proper tools to communicate across cultures and co-cultures.
Providing opportunities for students to apply class concepts to the real world can help them develop self-discipline and initiative. It also allows them to see how they can make a difference and helps them build their own opinions, values, and goals based on these experiences.
When students are challenged in community settings, they may be more aware of their own strengths and limitations and learn to appreciate the needs of others. They may also have the opportunity to practice and improve their interpersonal skills, leadership abilities, communication skills and organizational skills.