This material was originally developed within the Pedagogy in Action Portal
Initial Publication Date: June 30, 2006

Created by Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center, and enhanced first by Ed Laine (Bowdoin College) and then by Andrea Ziegert (Denison University), Nancy Brooks (Cornell University), Emily Janke (UNC Greensboro) and Mary Lopez (Occidental College).

photo by Ed Laine
"It was really meaningful for me to know that what I was learning has applications in the real world, rather than just learning something in order to pass a test or get a good grade. It was a huge sense of accomplishment when the project was finally finished and I could finally explain what all the data meant because I knew that we had really learned something that would be of use to other members in the community. " Jennifer, sophomore, undeclared major, Bowdoin College Service-Learning Student

What is Service-Learning?

"Service-learning is an experiential teaching method that combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility and commitment to the community." Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges as cited in

Service-learning is a flexible pedagogy that can make use of varied service opportunities, be used in a variety of classroom settings, and support numerous learning outcomes. Essential elements of effective service-learning practice include well-defined learning goals, meaningful service activities, and critical reflection activities which support both service and learning goals.

Learn more about what is service-learning

Why Use Service-Learning?

Service-learning promotes a deep approach to learning. Students learn how to turn factual knowledge into usable knowledge. Service-learning also provides a variety of academic, social and civic benefits for students, faculty, community members, and academic institutions.
Learn more about the benefits of service-learning

How to Use Service-Learning?

Creating a successful service-learning course involves pre-planning and preparation, designing and implementing a service experience, learning through reflection,and assessment. The principles of good practice in community service-learning pedagogy can help guide the development of service-learning exercises into your class.
Learn more about how to use service-learning


  • Bibliography of useful books and articles about service-learning
  • Examples of ways to use service-learning courses in your classroom
  • Related Links:

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