Service Learning: The Myriad of Benefits

Service Learning: The Myriad of Benefits

 

Image by: ITU Pictures https://www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/Service learning forms a part of liberal education. It includes students performing community service activities and applying the values acquired for their academic and personal development. Students develop interpersonal skills best when allowed to interact with and serve for the community. Therefore, many schools include service learning in their curriculum to enhance learning abilities in students.

The Basics of Service Learning

Also known as community engagement, service learning is an integrated program for students which they are graded on. Schools are  assigned specific sites for their service activities. Students can, in certain cases, choose their own sites as well. These programs are usually designed in collaboration with the school authorities and community partners, which could be both, government as well as non-governmental organizations.

After signing up for the program, a site orientation is held by the student coordinator (SC) who allots tasks to the students for the duration of their service. This service is most definitely related to the subjects that they have taken up in their schools or colleges. This helps in building up experiential skills to enhance learning. This will be easier for you to understand with an example.

Suppose you are an environmental education student. What you could be required to do might include:

  • Researching about the effects of rubbish littered over a beach
  • Talking with the authority about the impacts
  • Organizing a beach cleanup with your teammates
  • Noting down the data to take it back to school and encourage your friends not to litter the beach the next time they go for an outing

The following TEDx talk demonstrates the importance of service learning and how it affects learning outcomes positively.

Benefits of Service Learning for Students

Service learning not only enriches the learning experience for a student but also plays a major role in the overall development of a student. Let us discuss a few of the benefits:

  • Research is hugely involved in service learning. This helps students to build self-confidence and inculcates in them a sense of how to ask appropriate questions, as and when the situation demands.
  • Develops critical thinking and interpersonal skills.
  • Enhances interaction and communication abilities.
  • Develops problem-solving abilities by organizing community activities.
  • Students develop a sense of civic responsibility.
  • They get to develop hands-on experience and explore possibilities in real-life situations outside the classroom.
  • They become more flexible and open to change.
  • Service learning could also benefit students in their career prospects, since a service-learning bonus in the graduation certificate could earn brownie points in future job prospects.
  • Meeting new people is an added bonus; students get to acquire newer contacts and benefit later from this network.

Service Learning Benefits for Communities

Students are not the sole beneficiaries of the service learning projects. The communities they work for equally benefit from this endeavor.

  • The young generation, they say, form the building blocks of the future society. Therefore, service learning, since executed by the youth, helps in creating an awareness among the students about the issues of those communities they work for.
  • Repetition of the mistakes that contributing to the woes of the communities and the society as a whole is obliterated.
  • When students learn about these issues, they would share them with their classmates and this initiates a cumulative process of knowledge sharing. This, in turn, results in clearing numerous prejudices pertaining to certain concepts.
  • Service learning builds a strong relationship among communities striving to uphold the integrity of the environment and the school authorities.
  • It also helps in gaining resources to address certain plaguing concerns of the community.

Service learning enriches the perspectives and abilities of the students to a great extent. Addressing real-world problems and thinking up quick strategies to improve such situations help students a good deal with their academic and personal development.

Students become more aware of the gravity of the problems infesting the community and how they affect common people. They can think up remedies for these and devise methods to stop mass projections of the disadvantages. The schools and communities benefit indirectly from such implementations, therefore deepening further relationship. It is a win-win situation for everybody.

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