Types of Service-Learning

The following list created by the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse gives a sense of the many ways students can apply instruction and practice needed skills through helping others. Full-scale projects include formal linkages with coursework, and part of the student grade is tied to the service-learning activities. Note that different types of projects have students apply different skills.

Direct Service-Learning: person-to-person, face-to-face service projects in which the students’ service directly impacts individuals who receive the service from the students. Examples include

  • Tutoring other students and adults
  • Conducting art/music/dance lessons for youth
  • Giving presentations on violence and drug prevention
  • Helping in a homeless shelter
  • Creating life reviews for Hospice patients

Indirect Service-Learning: working on broad issues, environmental projects, or community development–projects that have clear benefits to the community or environment, but not necessarily to individually identified people with whom the students are working. Examples include

  • Compiling a town history
  • Restoring historic structures or building low-income housing
  • Removing invasive plants and restoring ecosystems in preserve areas for public use

Research-Based Service-Learning: gathering and presenting information on areas of interest and need–projects that find, gather, and report on information that is needed. Examples include

  • Writing a guide on available community services and translating it into Spanish and other languages of new residents
  • Conducting longitudinal studies of local bodies of water; water testing for local residents
  • Gathering information and creating brochures or videos for non-profit or government agencies
  • Mapping state lands and monitoring flora and fauna

Advocacy Service-Learning: educating others about topics of public interest–projects that aim to create awareness and action on some issue that impacts the community. Examples include

  • Planning and putting on public forums on topics of interest in the community
  • Conducting public information campaigns on topics of interest or local needs
  • Working with elected officials to draft legislation to improve communities