Service-Learning for Students
An academic service-learning course is exactly what it sounds like: a class that combines community oriented service with hands-on classroom projects. Students who take service-learning courses gain real world experience while also helping their community. The communities in Arkansas and around Conway become your learning environment, as you work with your professors, classmates and community partners to make a positive difference in the lives as others and social change. UCA strives to provide students with service-learning opportunities to help further their careers, providing them with ways to demonstrate valuable professional experience.
Service-learning positively impacts:
- Academic performance, including GPA, cognitive development, critical thinking skills, writing skills, and problem analysis.
- Applying what students learn to the real world.
- Understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures.
- Interpersonal development, leadership/communication skills, and the ability to work well with others.
- Sense of social responsibility, as well as commitment to activism and increased citizenship skills.
- Clarity of career goals, as well as plans to participate in service after college.
*Source: Astin, A.W., Vogelgesang, L. J., Ikeda, E. K., and Yee, J.A. 2000. “How Service Learning Affects Students.” Los Angeles: University of California, Higher Education Research Institute.
Service-learning vs. Volunteering
Service-learning can be different from volunteering or internships in that it deliberately links to educational outcomes of a particular course or educational program. Learning is assessed and measured through student reflections and other assignments—like essays, group discussions, projects, or portfolios—as well as from evaluations provided by community partners.
Volunteers may commit to addressing community needs, but their work does not have to be explicitly tied to one or more learning outcomes. Interns may be required to demonstrate mastery of learning through their work experiences, but their experiences may or may not be focused around meeting a need identified by the community.
Service-learning internationally pursues learning and meeting community needs, desiring mutual exchange of information, skills, and needs between faculty and students; community members, organizations, and resources; and learning goals. One is not necessarily better than the other, but the distinction is useful when forming partnerships or determining what goals a service activity should have. Students and faculty engaged in service-learning should keep in mind their learning goals and how their service activity can help them to achieve those, as well as how skills and knowledge being learned can be applied to service activities to benefit their community partners.
Accessed from George Washington University’s Academic Service-Learning handout. https://serve.gwu.edu/sites/serve.gwu.edu/files/downloads/CCEPS%20Definition%20of%20Service-Learning%20Handout.pdf
OrgSync is a web application that allows UCA students to join, organize, manage and communicate with student organizations and their members. OrgSync will also be used to track all student volunteer and service-learning hours.