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c-nvolved FAQ

A number of important questions have been asked about service-learning:

Q. Is service-learning different from community service or volunteer activity?
A. Yes. Service-learning is different because the education of the student is always the central factor. Students actively reflect on their classroom learning as well as their community activity. Academic questions are applied to real-life situations.

Q. Are there different types of “service” in service-learning?
A. There is no one way to do service-learning. A common classification of “service” in service- learning includes direct service, indirect service, advocacy, and research.

  • Direct service involves face-to-face interaction of students within the community. Such service includes working directly with persons or organizations in the chosen community in order to help solve problems. Students engaged in direct service learn to care for others who are different in age, life experiences and background.
  • Indirect service benefits a community without actual contact by the students. Examples can include collecting clothing and toys for children, books for a school or developing goals and action plans for local businesses. Through indirect service students learn specific skills which are reinforced through real world application.
  • Advocacy is the development of awareness of a public issue or problem and the promotion of action to alleviate the problem. A key difference with other forms of service-learning is that advocacy understands service in terms of social justice. In advocacy service-learning students may write letters, attend and lead public meetings and speak for those who have no voice.
  • Research service-learning involves students designing research, gathering data and reporting findings regarding public issues. Students may conduct surveys and interviews to study issues the community has identified as important. In addition, students may study water quality, traffic patterns and other issues that relate to public safety.

Q. Is one type of service-learning better than another?

A. Each type of service-learning has benefits for both student and community. Service- learning of any type can engage the student’s imagination and curiosity. Community issues often require all types for solutions. It is important that all types of service-learning be used in order to develop civically engaged students.