Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
Service learning is an active-learning experience that brings together three forces:
- Faculty, who develop a curriculum that connects an academic discipline with the realities of communities and work settings.
- Students, who have a desire to learn and contribute in a beyond-the-classroom setting.
- Community Citizens, who have defined tasks and who invite the assistance of students and faculty.
Each faculty member determines the required number of service hours and reflection activities for a specific class. The faculty member must also approve the student's selection of a service placement.
The vision of service learning is connected to and an extension of the mission of Niagara University, which seeks to promote "excellence by fostering and assessing community service, especially of the poor and the curricular connections that prepare for and reflect on that service."
- To foster good citizenship.
- To strengthen academic skills.
- To promote student involvement in the educative process.
- To challenge students to examine their own moral religious values, attitudes and beliefs about the world.
- To connect learning with much needed social change.
- To enable students to connect academic knowledge, insights and skills to solving real problems in the community and to effect much needed social change.
- To enable students to engage in critical thinking, discussion and writing.
- To enhance awareness of diversity and multiculturalism.
- To enable students to understand the cultural, economic, political and religious structures of society.
- To challenge students to examine their own values, attitudes and beliefs.
- To enable students to do research into the courses of poverty and the marginalized.
- To enable students to acquire the skills necessary to serve the poor and marginalized.
A variety of human needs such as domestic violence prevention, homelessness, hunger, help with tax preparation, and financial planning are addressed as part of the service-learning components of curricula. Students work in soup kitchens, hospitals and nursing homes in addition to providing tutoring help.
Participating in community service is volunteering to improve the community by meeting the needs, supporting and assisting others. Where those participating in service learning will likely investigate community needs while planning a service project. In addition, those participants will also reflect on their experience in relation to what is being studied in class.
"Overall, the most important feature of effective service learning programs is that students engage equally with learning and service and reflect on their intersections."
Need to apply for a placement?
- Please take a look at the Service Learning Placement Manual for information on finding an individualized placement.
- Students enrolled in a class with a service-learning component of 10 hours or more, click here.
- Need driving directions to a placement site? Stop in to the Learn and Serve Office - Bailo Hall, Second Floor.