Community Engagement

What Are Some Examples of Service-Learning?

Academic Course Centered:

Courses at many schools include Service-Learning components. Although Service-Learning is most frequently employed in classes concerned with social issues and political science, with sufficient thought and organization, it can be used to supplement and enrich any subject.

Sometimes the class has recurring and preplanned obligations; in other cases, the students may be responsible for seeking out and organizing the projects; and for still others, the projects are unforeseen, rising from the current needs of the community and the desire of the students to meet them. Examples of this school-based service is as follows.

Social Studies

  • In her article “The Power of Community Service” (1989), Diane Hedin describes how a problem between city officials and an 88-year-old woman provided an opportunity for a Service-Learning project that benefited the two aforementioned parties as well as the participating students. According to Hedin (1989), the elderly woman could not perform necessary maintenance on her property on her own, nor could she care for herself independently, yet she would not accept help from the city officials because they had caused her distress by erroneously acting on a misunderstanding. The needed assistance was then provided by the students; meanwhile, the students were provided with a hands-on experience. “Volunteering to help Mrs. Bain was in the context of a social-studies course for seniors, who worked in the community four days a week (a total of eight hours) and had a classroom session for two hours a week. The theme of the course was human development, and theories of how people grow and develop through the life cycle were studied.” (Hedin 1989)


  • In their article “Community Service Statistics Projects” (1999), Jon E. Anderson and Engin A. Sungur describe their experiences with using Service-Learning to teach and motivate their statistics students. They also explain their approach and philosophy: “The primary benefit of Service-Learning for students [in statistics courses] is that they are analyzing real data in a local context. Because the project comes from a local source, student interest and ownership of the project is strong. This approach also provides consulting and statistical communication opportunities.” In this program, the students help the community by collecting and analyzing data that is used to fulfill a need by the city. Examples could be helping with the necessary research that precedes a city project, identifying problems in the community to see where assistance needs to be directed, and the like. In that way, the students provide a service to the community by providing them with information that it would otherwise have to pay for or do without.


  • In the article “Service-Learning: History, Literature Review, and a Pilot Study of Eighth Graders” (1999), Angelina Johnson and Deborah Notah describe their study, which introduced a Service-Learning component into several eighth-grade science classes. “Students completed projects representing all three types of service– direct, indirect, and advocacy.” (Johnson and Notah 1999) The direct service included visiting the elderly, the sick, and those children with special needs. The indirect service consisted of collecting and distributing canned food items for local food banks and toys for underprivileged children. “A few students also completed advocacy projects such as: production of a video documenting the importance of hazardous waste disposal to publicize an upcoming hazardous waste collection in the county; [and the] production of a video explaining the dangers of dehydration as well as a method for rehydration, which was broadcast over a district cable channel.” (Johnson and Notah 1999) Undoubtedly, as the connections of these projects to the science curriculum became clear, the students’ understandings of certain scientific concepts were influenced.