A Service-Learning Course is "A course that incorporates at least 15 hours of course-related community service with reflection activities to enhance students' understanding of course content, self-awareness, and civic engagement." - CSU Dominguez Hills Academic Senate Executive Committee, 2009.
“Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” – Thomas Ehrlich
In these programs, field-based “experiential learning” with community partners is an instructional strategy-and often required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life.
Internships are another increasingly common form of experiential learning. The idea is to provide students with direct experience in a work setting-usually related to their career interests- and to give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field. If the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member.
From High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter, by George D. Kuh (2008)
Service learning is a high impact practice that promotes students understanding of course content, general knowledge, sense of civic responsibility, self-awareness & commitment to the community. This balance of key components sets service-learning apart from other service-oriented approaches.
Service learning helps the university become a more vigorous partner in the search for answers to our most pressing social, civic, economic and moral problems – Boyer, 1966.
Service Learning assists the student with interpersonal development, ability to work with others, leadership and communications skills – Eyler and giels, 2001.
Contact the Center for Service Learning, Internships, & Civic Engagement at (310) 243-2438.