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Types of Service Learning for University Students

The following list gives a sense of the four main ways students can apply instruction and practice needed skills through helping others (Butin, 2006):

  • Direct Service-Learning

It is defined as person-to-person, face-to-face service projects in which the students’ service directly impacts individuals who receive the service from the students. Examples: Tutoring other students and adults, conducting art/ music/ dance lessons for youth, giving presentations on violence and drug prevention, helping in a homeless shelter and creating life reviews for hospice patients, etc

  • Indirect Service-Learning

This is stated as working on broad issues, environmental projects, or community development projects that have clear benefits to the community or environment, but not necessarily to individually identified people with whom the students are working. Some examples include compiling a town history and removing invasive plants and restoring ecosystems in preserved areas for public use.

  • Research-Based Service-Learning

It is also referred to gathering and presenting information on areas of interest and need projects that find, gather, and report on information that is needed. Here examples can be like writing a guide on available community services and translating it into other languages of new residents, conducting longitudinal studies of local bodies of water; water testing for local residents and gathering information and creating brochures or videos for non-profit or government agencies.

  • Advocacy Service-Learning

Educating others about topics of public interest-projects that aim to create awareness and action on some issue that impacts the community. For example, conducting public information campaigns on topics of interest or local needs and working with elected officials to draft legislation to improve communities.

As can be observed based on the above models, SL at universities can be developed through different forms. It however requires that the institution establishes mechanisms that allow smooth implementation including, but not limited to, time slots for extracurricular learning activities. Thus, the institution should:

  • update its academic programs by including some courses related to SL that help students to know more about this new feature of SL
  • encourage students to conduct different research-based projects that would enable them to meet/collaborate/interact with the community/society
  • create or develop greater collaboration between Industry and Institutional programs in a such a way that Industry provides internships for students enabling them to get some needed practical skills
  • encourage volunteerism-spirit and charity works within students as an easy way to enhance a deep collaboration between students and the community
  • establish a department within institution in charge of Service-Learning related actions including monitoring and evaluation of their development.