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An Introduction to Service Learning and Community Service

Service Learning

On March 14th, the neighborhood school district took a freshman math class down to the local food pantry to serve pies.

It was Pi Day.

Students were learning about pi and the many applications it has in the real world. Beyond core academics, their school district emphasized service learning and community service as part of their mission and vision. Connecting lessons about pi with serving pies to their community simply fit.

What is Service Learning?

Vanderbilt University defines service learning as:

“A form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves.”

Service learning is sometimes considered a pedagogy with particular instructional strategies. It frequently uses content standards from various subject areas (e.g., Math, Language Arts, Social Studies) and applies these standards to an experience of service within the community. Service learning integrates into the curriculum and course as a type of experiential learning.

What is Community Service?

Community service is when students volunteer in their communities to help in a variety of different needs. Community service is different from service learning. It focuses on the needs of the community without necessarily considering the student’s academic growth.


Why Do Schools Participate in Service Learning and Community Service Opportunities?

There are many benefits to service learning and community service.

  • Improve social-emotional skills
  • Available to all types of learners
  • Increase civic engagement with the local community
  • Improve character values and responsibility
  • Increase academic outcomes
  • Support the needs of the community
  • Build positive relationships

Importantly, students love the authentic experience of service learning and the meaning it provides to their education.

Service and Graduation

Service learning and community service play a role in graduation for many students. Some states require students to log service hours to graduate. At the same time, other states feature service hours as one of the factors contributing to graduation. Some states don’t have any requirements.

All that said, many schools and districts encourage service learning and community service with local policies and opportunities. Building strong relationships between schools, students, and the community is critical in education.

Abre Supports Service Learning and Community Service

Abre has the unique ability to support schools and the community with service opportunities. Our Community Engagement solution provides the basis for this support. For our next post, we’ll do a deeper dive into how this support is delivered.



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