Evidence of Service-Learning Benefits

Initial Publication Date: November 30, 2010
A number of researchers, Eyler & Giles (1999), Astin et al. (2000), and Eyler et al. (2001) have documented the benefits of service-learning to students and to a lesser extent faculty, academic institutions and community members. Service-learning improves student learning outcomes and contributes to student personal and social development. Faculty report enhanced teaching, service, and research opportunities and academic institutions report increased student retention and improved town/gown relationships. Community partners receive additional resources to support their agencies' mission.

Unless otherwise noted, the following outcomes are documented in these studies.
Water quality measurements


Learning Outcomes
  • Service-learning improves student academic outcomes as demonstrated through complexity of understanding, problem analysis, critical thinking, and cognitive development (Astin et al., Eyler et al., Eyler and Giles)
  • Students reported that they learned more and were motivated to work harder in a service-learning class then in traditionally taught classes (Eyler and Giles)
  • Students and faculty report that service-learning improves students' ability to apply what they've learned in the "real world" (Astin et al., Eyler et al., Eyler and Giles)
Personal Outcomes
  • Students engaged in service-learning report stronger faculty-student relationships than do students not involved in service-learning (Eyler et al.)
  • Service-learning enhances student personal development such as sense of personal efficacy, personal identity, spiritual growth, and moral development (Astin et al., Eyler et al., Eyler and Giles)
  • Service-learning increases interpersonal development, the ability to work well with others, and leadership and communication skills (Astin et al., Eyler et al.)
Social Outcomes
Learn more about how service learning can be used to connect classroom learning with societal issues (from the InTeGrate project).
  • Service-learning can reduce stereotypes and facilitates cultural and racial understanding (Astin et al., Eyler et al., Eyler and Giles)
  • Service-learning increases commitment to service (Astin et al., Eyler et al.)


  • Faculty using service-learning report satisfaction with quality of student learning (Eyler et al.)
  • Faculty report using service-learning enhances teaching quality (Eyler et al.)
  • Service-learning provides outlets for faculty professional expertise and opportunities for faculty research (Willis, 2002)
  • Service-learning can increase diversity in the classroom by accommodating a wide variety of learning styles (McGoldrick & Ziegert, 2002)

Colleges and Universities

  • Service-learning improves student satisfaction with college (Eyler et al.)
  • Service-learning increases student retention (Eyler et al.)
  • Students engaged in service-learning are more likely to graduate (Eyler et al.)
  • Service-learning improves community relations (Eyler et al.)


  • Communities suggest they benefit from additional resources provided by student service (Eyler et al.)
  • Communities benefit from faculty expertise (Eyler et al.)
  • Communities report enhanced university relations (Eyler et al.)