Wilkes Community College Wilkes Community College
Wilkes Community College
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Service Learning

Addressing Community Needs by Student Involvement


Beth Foster, Director
(336) 838-6173



To address community needs through collaborative campus and community partnerships that support student learning and promote civic responsibility.

What is Service Learning?

  • Integration of community service with academic instruction through a focus on critical, reflective thinking, and civic responsibility.
  • Type of experiential education in which learning takes place through a cycle of action and reflection. The main difference between volunteerism and service learning is the reflective, critical review of the experience.
  • Allows student within the context of a class apply what they are learning to community problems.
  • Allows students to address local needs within our community while developing academic skills, a sense of civic responsibility, and a commitment to the community.

  How is a Service Learning site selected?

  • Potential Sites are listed in an Agency Profile Handbook.
  • Instructors have the opportunity to decide on community sites used for their individual class.
  • Service-Learning can be offered in a wide array of opportunities to support multiple academic disciplines.  

 How is the volunteer experience (service) related back to the classroom (learning)? 

  • Reflection
  • Instructors determine the reflective portion of Service Learning.
    • Journal of experience which could include personal goals, agency goals, questions and problems that were encountered; what the experience was like; how did your service make a difference in the community; what did you learn about yourself; etc. 
    • Oral presentation
    • Papers
    • Artwork
    • Any other reflective opportunity as determined by instructor

 What do community colleges have to say about Service Learning? 

  • Students learn more, make better grades, and complete courses at a higher rate.
  • Service Learning offers a opportunity to meet and network with civic minded community leaders.
  • Student learn about community/civic organizations within their community.
  • Students report a strong sense of satisfaction about their service to people, the environment, and the community.

 How can Service Learning benefit our college?

  • Enhanced teaching and outreach activities.
  • Faculty and student engagement in community issues.
  • Extend college knowledge and resources.
  • Expand community relationships community/civic organizations.
  • Increased development and preparation of college graduates.



Student Benefits

Student Challenges

  • Offers students a grade-related incentive
  • Lack of time given other demands
  • Integration of subject matter  to community needs
  • Difficulty in relating course objectives to service activities
  • Promotes tolerance and appreciation for diversity
  • Fear of working with unfamiliar issues and diverse populations
  • Promotes civic responsibility, self- worth, and leadership skills 


Faculty Benefits

Faculty Challenges

  • Inspires and innovates teaching methods
  • Impact of service learning is not easily quantified
  • Creates a different perspective on learning; gives opportunity for professional and personal review
  • Lack of time and institutional or departmental support (example:  restructuring of syllabus to integrate service learning)
  • Connects curriculum to community, increasing awareness of current societal issues as they relate to academic areas of interest
  • Viewing service learning as soft or nonacademic learning
  • Builds a classroom community; enhances and establishes relationships with people in the community


Community Partner Benefits

Community Partner Challenges

  • Builds community awareness of college programs and services
  • Finding the best opportunity that will support student learning and meet community needs
  • Opportunity for additional human resources, which provide new perspectives and ideas
  • Lack of time for proper orientation, training, and supervision
  • Agencies? abilities to address underserved needs are extended
  • Value of the student time commitment versus the investment of agency time
  • Creates opportunities to enhance student civic responsibilities  


Service Learning Forms:

Service Learning Agency Profile

Service Learning Application

Service Learning Agreement/Statement of Risk

Service Learning Time Log/Evaluation

Faculty Resources:

Ten Steps to Develop Service Learning in the Classroom

Syllabi examples

Ideas for project types:  
101 Ideas For Combining Service & Learning 

Online Resources:

NC Campus Compact: www.elon.edu/nccc 

Civic Education Consortium: www.civics.org

National Campus Compact: www.campuscompact.org 

Campus Compact: www.compact.org

Community College National Center for Community Engagement: www.mc.maricopa.edu/other/engagement 

Points of Light Foundation: www.pointsoflight.org/resources 

Civic Practices Network: www.cpn.org/index.html 

The Grass Roots Organization: www.grass-roots.org/links.shtml 

Farmers Insurance Service Learning: www.farmers.com/FarmComm/AmericanPromise/ap_acts/act_service.html