Service Leaning

What the Heck Is Service Learning?

Here's a simple definition for service learning with details and resources for planning a unit.
By Heather Wolpert-Gawron
November 7, 2016
"What we’re talking about here is a form of engagement. It’s about leveraging the need to do something good in the world as a means to help kids hit their learning objectives. It’s about teaching empathy as well as literacy. It’s about teaching compassion as well as composition. It’s about teaching advocacy as well as algebra."

Wilson, J. C. (2011). Service-learning and the development of empathy in US college students. Education Training53(2/3), 207–217.

– The purpose of this study is to evaluate the influence of a service‐learning experience on the personal development of college students, particularly focusing on the expression of empathy.

– Reflective writing papers were evaluated using a rubric with definitions for three types of understanding, as defined by Wiggins and McTighe in 2005, perspective, empathy, and self‐knowledge. The results were analyzed using Fisher's exact test to determine if there were significant differences in the expression of these types of understanding between the service‐learning group and the group that did not do service‐learning.

– Students involved in the service‐learning assignment were significantly (p < 0.05) more likely to express empathy in their reflective writing than the students who did not participate in service‐learning. There were no significant differences between the groups in the other two types of understanding."

The Service Learning–Empathy Connection
David Sandles
"Early in my education career, I was entranced with the idea of establishing and developing my students' "soft skills". In particular, I wanted to develop their sense of empathy, self-respect, and respect for their surrounding environment. When I first came across the idea of service learning, I was buoyed when I heard it could help me achieve my stated goals, yet I was reticent to embrace what at the time was seen as a newfangled, crazy teaching technique. Upon trying it and earnestly immersing myself in the underpinning research, I learned of the myriad social-emotional and academic benefits of the practice and became an instant convert."

"As both a pedagogical and practical approach, service-learning provides an ideal platform for developing empathy. As a pedagogy, it emphasizes reciprocity and balance between student learning and addressing real community needs, offering opportunities for guided  experiences in the community and reflection on those experiences. In practice, students in service-learning courses encounter social issues firsthand and often recognize other people’s needs, struggles, or levels of despair for the first time (Goleman, 1995). " (EVERHART + 2016)

Could Volunteering Be the Cure for Bullying?
"At Lion's Heart, an organization for teen volunteering founded in 2004, we find that volunteering gives teens a sense of community and belonging while teaching them empathy and compassion. Teens who are socially aware and empathetic to the plight of others are less likely to bully. Giving back to the community on a regular basis cultivates better physical and emotional health. By developing strong emotional and social skills, children learn to identify the difference between teasing and bullying."