Service-Learning provides a unique way for students to apply concepts learned in class in a real-world setting and/or to address real-world challenges through academic coursework. Additionally, it allows for deeper and more meaningful classroom discussions as students bring their experiences from service into the classroom and vice versa.
Here's some more information about what students can expect from their service-learning experience:
- Students of all academic levels and disciplines, from first-semester freshmen to graduate-level students
- Faculty members/instructors
- Service-Learning Teaching Assistants (student leaders assigned to support the S-L process for a given course)
- Community-based and nonprofit organizations, also called Community Partners
- Service: Students serve with community partners in pre-established roles and projects directly aligned with course learning objectives, as is determined by the faculty member/instructor. Past service roles and projects have included:
- teaching English to speakers of other languages (SPNS 3102 Advanced Spanish 2 students serving with Roxse Homes)
- coordinating an advocacy campaign and an associated press kit (COMM 4603 Advocacy Workshop students serving with The Home for Little Wanderers)
- teaching youth about healthy eating habits and activities (HUSV 1101 Human Services Professions students serving with Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures)
- facilitating a modified exercise program for seniors (PT 5161 Psychosocial Aspects of Healthcare Seminar students serving with the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center)
- Reflection: In addition to serving each week, all students complete academic assignments that engage them in critical reflection. This occurs in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to):
- class discussions and debates
- written assignments (blogs, discussion board posts with peer responses, synthesis papers, etc.)
- individual and group presentations
- Evaluation: At the end of the semester students evaluate the service-learning experience, faculty members/instructors evaluate students’ achievement of course learning outcomes, and community partners evaluate the students’ achievement of service goals.
The service location depends on the course and service requirements.
- Students may serve on-site at a community partners’ facilities either working directly with clients or alongside staff.
- Students engaging in group or individual projects/research typically serve off-site and may only visit a community partners’ facility once or twice each semester; they serve remotely from campus by using NU resources to complete their projects (computer labs, group meeting rooms in the library, internet access in dorms/academic buildings, etc.)
Domestic v. Global Service-Learning
- Boston-area community partners are either in walking distance or accessible by public transportation from NU’s main campus.
- International community partners exist in Costa Rica, Benin, India, and Spain for select courses that are part of the Dialogue of Civilizations program, as well as other countries as more courses are developed.
- Students can engage in Service-Learning experiences as early as their first semester at NU and all the way through their graduate studies (varies by department, program and discipline).
- Service-Learning is a semester-long process and experience. Students will,
- serve from 2-5 hours each week for direct S-L experiences and 2-10 hours each week for project-based S-L experiences (some exceptions apply)
- start serving by week four of the semester and continue through the last week of classes (some exceptions apply)
Students benefit from service-learning in a variety of ways, ranging from personal growth to academic advancement and professional experience. Some benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Apply course material to real-world issues; bring the curriculum to life
- 77% of students agree that they applied course concepts/knowledge in a real-world setting.
- Build resume and skill sets; gain hands on skills related to academic/professional area(s) of interest
- 76% of students agree that they developed academic skills and knowledge.
- 76% of students agree that they developed professional skills and knowledge.
- 82% of students agree that they improved their communication skills.
- 84% of students agree that they improved their interpersonal skills.
- Increase awareness of the local community
- 77% of students agree that their coursework strengthened their ability to serve their community partner.
*data from spring 2012 NU student S-L final evaluations