At Loyola University Maryland, service-learning refers to experiential learning within academic courses that is gained through structured reflection on community-based service. In most courses, service-learning pedagogies are combined with more traditional modes of teaching and learning. Essential components of service-learning include: learning and service, which enhance one another; reciprocal partnership with the community; and meaningful, structured reflection.
Service-learning courses at Loyola intentionally contribute to those undergraduate educational aims which promote justice, diversity, leadership and social responsibility. These values are central to the Jesuit educational mission of Loyola University Maryland and of all Jesuit colleges and universities.
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How Does Service-Learning Work?
Engaging in service as part of a course can contribute to learning about course content just as reading texts, watching films, conducting experiments in the lab, or going on field trips do. In a service-learning course, service is one of the kinds of homework students undertake to learn about their subject matter. Learning occurs through an array of reflection activities and assignments that help students connect their service experiences in the course with the central ideas, hypotheses, theories and methods they are studying.
- Faculty choose community partners for their service-learning courses based on what kinds of service environments connect to the content of the course.
- Service-learning may be optional or required of all students in a course, depending on the pedagogical, curricular and logistical preferences and needs of the instructor, department, and community partners involved.
- Students in service-learning courses generally serve for about 20 hours per semester, or 2 hours per week for 10 weeks. We chose this level of commitment because it is a best practice to put in at least that much investment over time in order to get strong learning and service results.
- Students can serve via site-based service, such as serving food at a meal program, project-based service, such as creating a promotional video for a partner organization, or a combination of both, depending on the needs of the partner and the objectives of the course.
What Are the Benefits of Service-Learning?
First and foremost, it is a powerful way to learn about what students are studying at Loyola. It also challenges students to learn firsthand about community, democracy, diversity, justice, civil society, social responsibility, leadership and critical thinking. In addition, it offers students opportunities for personal growth, faith development, improved social and communication skills, job training, and exposure to an array of diverse perspectives that exist beyond the confines of campus life.
For more information, contact Robin Crews, Director of Service-Learning, at ext. 2112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.