|Service-learning is an instructional approach that engages students while increasing academic achievement by providing rigor and relevance in the curriculum. It promotes cognitive, social-emotional, and experiential
engagement in meaningful learning. Because young people are given an opportunity to make a difference
through the knowledge and skills they are learning in school, service-learning gives them more motivation to
learn, understanding of how to put their learning to good use, develops an ethic of efficacy, and gives them a
sense of democracy in action. In quality service-learning experiences, teachers guide students through a
learning process that facilitates high academic performance and empowers them to enact genuine social
change in their communities. Service-learning can transform our schools through systemic change by
delivering a 21st century education resulting in a narrowing of the achievement gap and increased student
Service-learning is a method:
|Schools engaged in service-learning report its positive impact on teacher satisfaction, school climate, academic achievement, and school engagement. Teachers who use service-learning are significantly more likely to use high quality teaching strategies like cooperative learning, participate in projects integrating technology and requiring data collection, use primary resources, and make meaningful connections to the community. A variety of studies have shown evidence of a range of achievement-related benefits from service-learning, including improved attendance, higher assessment averages, enhanced preparation for the workforce, enhanced awareness and understanding of social issues, greater motivation for learning, and heightened engagement in pro-social behaviors.|
|Service-learning can significantly reduce the achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. Schools in high poverty areas are less likely to employ service-learning as a teaching strategy, yet research has shown this is a particularly effective pedagogy for use in such schools. Low-income students who participated in service opportunities and had lengthier participation in service-learning had better school attendance and grades than low-income students who did not participate.|
|Based on the evidence collected through service-learning and broader educational research, it can reasonably be concluded that high quality service-learning is an effective component of high quality instruction which will lead to increased academic achievement. It is also well-documented that ongoing high quality professional development and collaboration is an important element in changing instructional practices. Inclusion of service-learning preparation and training of high quality teachers and administrators, as an essential component of professional development, holds tremendous promise for increasing the effectiveness of instruction in raising students' academic achievement.|
|Active pedagogies and inquiry-based instruction are the very methodologies that develop the 21st century skills our students need to succeed in their communities and workplace. Service-learning effectively addresses these 21st century skills, while also engaging students in their communities and meeting one of the essential, and neglected, functions of schooling: preparing students for active and effective citizenship.|
|When teachers and administrators work in a thriving educational system, performance improves, retention is
greater, and continuous improvement is evident at every level. Service-learning has been shown to have a
significantly positive impact on teacher attitudes, student engagement, and overall school climate.|
Specific recommendations for advancing service-learning practice:
A well-rounded education is one that intertwines individual achievement outcomes with educating for the common good. Public education demands that we strive to create responsible, competent citizens who understand that creating a better world is the responsibility of each and every citizen. Service-learning experiences provide an opportunity for integrated teaching and learning across academic disciplines, effectively using technology to access and use information, and fostering a collaborative learning environment among students, teachers, principals, other school staff, parents, and the wider community. Service-learning offers effective contextual opportunities for the delivery of the national curriculum.
Learn and Serve Australia aims to influence and implement state and federal policies that advance high quality academic service-learning in P-12 schools. LASA believes service-learning is a critical element in an effective school climate where high quality instruction exists for all students. As a result, our advocacy efforts focus on policies addressing the following critical components: increased student success, reduced achievement gap, maximum capacity of all students as engaged learners, dropout prevention, balanced assessments, workforce development, and teacher quality. Our mission is to support and strengthen the efforts of our members who are working to advance P-12 school-based service-learning. LASA provides a unified national voice for its members in promoting and sustaining service-learning.
|An example of a service–learning activity might be a middle school science class studying the environment of a local waterway in order to help preserve the natural habitat of animals. Through classroom studies, the students learn about the environment before applying their knowledge on site by posting signs, studying the soil and water and investigating the impact of industrial development. They then write about their experiences in journals and participate in class discussions about the project and its effect on their lives and the local community. These discussions can be strictly academic or more critical and possibly spiritual, allowing students to explore their inner feelings with respect to the project and the wider society.|
|Successful service–learning programs have length, breadth and depth. Length is the number of school years involved - the more, the better. Breadth is associated with the variety in participant backgrounds, sizes and capabilities - the more individuals, groups, classes and grades of students of all capabilities involved, the better. Depth identifies the degree of curriculum integration, long term sustainability and quality of reflection in projects - the greater the integration and sustainability and the deeper the reflection, the better.|
| As service-learning evolves along
these three axes over time, success breeds success. Everyone knows that
service-learning works and the research continues to verify its efficacy.|
Students who participate in service-learning score higher than non-participating students particularly in social studies, writing, and English/language arts. They are more cognitively engaged and more motivated to learn. Studies show great promise for service-learning as an avenue for increasing achievement among alternative school students and other students considered at risk of school failure. Studies on school engagement generally show that service-learning students are more cognitively engaged in school. Studies of students’ problem-solving abilities show strong increases in cognitive complexity and other related aspects of problem solving. Service-learning has a positive impact on students by helping them to engage cognitively in school and score higher in certain content areas. Many of these outcomes are mediated by the quality of the programs.
|This website is dedicated to the implementation
of academically rigorous service-learning in every district across every
State and Territory in Australia. Learn and Serve Australia (LASA),
with interest and contributions drawn from across the country, seeks your support
through sharing of ideas and best practice.
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|20 May, 2013 Visits: 24974 © Learn and Serve Australia Version 1.4|