Teach the Earth > Teaching Methods > Service-Learning in Geoscience > Why Use Service Learning?

Service-learning can benefit all participants, students, faculty, academic institutions and their communities. Students gain academic knowledge and skills, interpersonal skills, and self confidence. Faculty can enhance the quality of their teaching, find opportunities for research and outlets for professional expertise. Service-learning supports the civic engagement mission of colleges and universities and improves town/gown relationships. Community members receive valued service and institutional support.

Service-Learning Enhances Student Learning and Personal Development

A group of young students performing part of a service learning project that studies their local river. Photo by Monica Bruckner.
Student benefits of service-learning include enhanced opportunities for learning, and personal and social skill development. Students gain increased knowledge of academic materials, their communities, and themselves.

Service-learning is a form of experiential education that supports deep learning. Through their service-learning activities, students apply classroom knowledge in practical settings to enhance their understanding of class materials.

Service-learning provides students with opportunities to develop civic engagement skills. By working with community members, students can enhance their group, organizational and interpersonal skills. They also can gain important experience working with diverse members of their communities.

Students can gain better understanding of themselves as they explore and develop ways to contribute to their communities. They can develop self confidence and an enhanced commitment to public service.

Service-Learning Benefits Other Constituents

Benefits of service-learning extend to:
Service-learning supports faculty teaching by providing a real world counterpart to the more theoretical material discussed in the classroom. Structured reflection activities centered on student experiences, create additional opportunities for faculty to guide student learning. Service-learning supports faculty research and service interests through faculty participation with their communities. Increased student and faculty participation in their communities strengthens the relationship between academic institutions and their communities. Community members gain valued service hours and opportunities to research agency or community problems they might otherwise not have the resources to undertake.

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