What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that incorporates service in order to enhance learning; at the same time, service-learning uses the classroom to contextualize service in order to deepen civic engagement. This uniquely effective approach facilitates a connection between community service and academic coursework, providing opportunities for students to put concepts and theories from the classroom into practice. Faculty members, in collaboration with community partners, decide how service can enhance the learning objectives of their courses, and how the work our students do can make a valuable contribution to the world around us.

Local organizations become learning laboratories, providing an environment in which students test classroom principles and theories in addition to working with community organization staff and clients to leave behind something of value to all concerned. Upon returning to the classroom, faculty set the tone for guided discussion and reflective assignments that tie the field experience to coursework. Students report a better understanding of course concepts when connections to real-life situations are made.

In addition to creating a connection between classroom concepts and community needs, service-learning upholds one of Wayne State University's core aims: to strengthen our diverse, metropolitan home.

Service-learning is not:

  • An episodic volunteer program
  • An add-on to an existing school or college curriculum
  • Completing minimum service hours in order to graduate
  • Service assigned as a form of punishment
  • Only for high school or college students
  • One-sided: benefiting only students or only the community