Why is Service-Learning an Effective Teaching Method?
When students engage in service-learning, tremendous benefits can accrue to them. Besides the spiritual and social benefits of service, students can better bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world. Theoretical concepts learned in the classroom come to life with “hands-on” experiences that promote critical thinking, demonstrate the application of course material, and help students learn from practical experience.
Learning by Doing
Much of our teaching is done through classroom instruction where information is presented to students through lectures and reading. Researchers in education have found that while this transmission model is efficient in conveying large amounts of information, it fails to actively involve students in the acquisition of knowledge. service-learning is a type of experiential education that helps transform classroom theory into practice (and the reverse--from experience to theory). It encourages links between theoretical lessons and concrete educational activities to maximize learning.
Ownership in Learning
Service learning encourages a student to be more of a “participant” in learning than a “spectator.” This approach awakens students’ interest, captures their attention, and evokes their passion. In rendering service, students become engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Such involvement provides a relationship with course principles that give students the opportunity to individually develop their reactions, observations, and understanding of a subject.
New experiences challenge us. By placing students in carefully chosen environments or situations, we encourage them to learn for themselves. Not only will students learn how to apply previously acquired information, but they will also learn from the service experience itself. When service and theory are integrated, students will learn to communicate, solve problems, analyze, and develop other higher order skills as they pose questions, experiment, and learn.
Relevancy & Authenticity
Students appreciate practical experience. They want to know why they are learning something. Service-learning places students in real (vs. theoretically) learning situations. It distances the abstraction of classroom instruction by placing information in the context of real-world problems and consequences. Students literally experience how their knowledge can be applied to benefit others.