Here at Green Tech High Charter School, we provide Service-Learning opportunities in a variety of contexts. The graduation requirement is that students must complete 100 hours of Service-Learning experience by the end of his senior year. Service Learning is a discipline rooted in the majority of Higher Education experiences. In preparing our students for college, introducing them to Service Learning in an intensive way gives them a leg up when entering college.
The Association of American Colleges & Universities, as part of their High Impact Practices Initiative, defines Service Learning as the following:
“Service Learning, Community-Based Learning: In these programs, field-based “experiential learning” with community partners is an instructional strategy—and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life“
Opportunities are provided through various academic opportunities that work to connect a community service project or partnership with the classroom topic. Reflection serves as the method by which a strong connection is made between the service and academic components.
Outside of the classroom, various Service-Learning opportunities are provided for students throughout the school year. Some examples are Senior Service Day and various opportunities surround Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. These events are more focused on a service project, and include a reflection component to solidify the “Learning” component of the “Service-Learning” opportunity.
Finally, individual students have the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with a site in the community. Through consistent service with this organization, they are able to build a relationship that eventually leads to a larger service project. In many cases, this project will draw upon the individual’s talents and skills and involves connection to academic strengths.
Overall, support is given to students to complete the graduation requirement. It is not unusual for students to exceed the recommended hour requirement. Each year, several senior students participate in an AmeriCorps TeenCorps program through Siena College. This program provides a Segal Education Award to students who successfully complete 300 hours within one school year. These students are often able to complete a significant project that benefits both Green Tech High Charter school as well as the surrounding community. Students who complete their hour requirement are looked to as mentors to help their peers to meet the requirement as well.
1) Andrew Furco, a highly regarded “American scholar, researcher, and educator in the field of experiential education”, outlines in his article, “Service-Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education” how Service-Learning is different from other forms of experiential learning. He also argues for an educational shift toward focusing on Service-Learning as an ideal way of incorporating real world experience into the world of academia. http://www.ucalgary.ca/ccel/files/servicelearning/Furco_1996_A_Balanced_Approach.pdf
2) the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) provides a history of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in the academic setting: http://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/le-sp05/le-sp05perspective2.cfm
3) AAC&U includes Service Learning as one of its “High Impact Practices”. These practices are highlighted as providing a deep learning experience to students. Via this website (http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/tag/service-learning), AAC&U has organized various resources such as scholarly articles, learning outcomes and assessments, as well as case studies that highlight the importance and success of Service Learning as a High Impact Practice, primarily in Higher Education.
4) Rockquemore, K. and Schaffer, R. provide evidence of the effect Service-Learning has on engaged students in their article “Toward a Theory of Engagement: A Cognitive Mapping of Service-Learning Experiences”. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mjcsl/3239521.0007.102/1
5) AAC&U’s Six Essential Findings on Students’ Civic Learning and Engagement: (from “A Brief Review of the Evidence on Civic Learning in Higher Education”)
1. More than 70 percent of all college students report participating in some form of volunteering, community service, or service learning during their time in college. (Source: National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement. 2012. A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.)
2. About one-half of college students report participating in credit-bearing service learning activities during their time in college. (Source: National Survey of Student Engagement. 2010. NSSE 2010 Grand Frequencies by Major, First-Year Students and Seniors. Bloomington, IN:
Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research; Data from the Higher Education Research Institute cited in O’Neill, Nancy. Forthcoming. Practices that Matter: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.)
3. Dozens of studies show that service learning is positively associated with a variety of civic learning outcomes. (Source: Finley, Ashley. 2011. Civic Learning and Democratic Engagements: A Review of the Literature on Civic Engagement in Postsecondary Education. Unpublished paper.
4. Emerging evidence suggests that the more frequently students participate in a continuum of civic learning practices (e.g. service learning, meaningful cross-racial interactions on campus or in classrooms, or real-world problem-based learning), the more they make gains on a variety
of civic outcomes. (Sources: Blaich, C. and Wise, K. 2011. “Wabash National Study findings on Personal and Social Responsibility.” Unpublished data provided by the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education; Bowen, Glenn. 2010. “Service-Learning in the Scholarship of Teaching and
Learning: Effective Practices.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 4(2): 1-15; Eyler, Janet S., Giles, Dwight E., Stenson, Christine M., Gray, Charlene J. 2001. At a Glance: What We Know about The Effects of Service-Learning on College Students, Faculty, Institutions and Communities, 1993-2000: Third Edition. Retrieved 10/12/10 from http://www.compact.org/wp content/uploads/resources/downloads/aag.pdf); Hurtado, Sylvia and DeAngelo, Linda. Forthcoming 2012. “Linking Diversity and Civic-Minded Practices with Student Outcomes: New Evidence from CIRP National Surveys.” Liberal Education. 98 (2).)
5. Although over forty percent of all college students are enrolled at public two-year institutions, only about a quarter of these students report taking a course that included a service-learning experience. (Source: American Association of Community Colleges. 2011. “Fact Sheet”; Center
for Community College Student Engagement [CCCSE]. 2011. “Key Findings: Active and Collaborative Learning.” Community College Survey of Student Engagement. Retrieved 11/9/11 from http://www.ccsse.org/survey/bench_active.cfm.)
6. Despite a wealth of positive evidence related to service-learning experiences, findings on a range of civic measures and social responsibility outcomes compared over time suggest that students’ civic learning is neither robust nor pervasive. (Source: Finley, Ashley. 2012. Making
Progress? What We Know About the Achievement of Liberal Education Outcomes. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.) (see page 2)
6) More resources and articles can be found on this webpage: http://www.aacu.org/resources/civicengagement/index.cfm?utm_source=meetings&utm_medium=blast&utm_campaign=civicwebinar09