Service Learning: Contributing to the Community in Which We Live by Applying the Knowledge We Have

Topics: Education, Experiential learning, Community service Pages: 12 (3587 words) Published: August 23, 2013
SERVICE LEARNING: CONTRIBUTING TO THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH WE LIVE BY APPLYING THE KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE

Milena Ristovska, M. Sc.
Teaching Assistant at
Faculty of Economics
University “Ss Cyril and Methodius”
Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
e-mail: milena@eccf.ukim.edu.mk

Abstract
Although well-established and with a long tradition in different countries worldwide, service learning is a completely unknown practice in Republic of Macedonia. This is the reason why the author attempted to make a theoretical overview of the concept of service learning based on her extensive expirience gathered as a visting scholar at George Washington University under the Junior Faculty Development Program. Service learning is an interactive process of both teaching and learning in which the students apply their academic skills and knowledge when trying to help the community solve its crucial problems. At the same time, it promotes learning through active participation in service experiences; provides structured time for students to reflect by thinking, discussing and/or writing about their service experience; provides an opportunity for students to use skills and knowledge in real-life situations; extends learning beyond the classroom and into the community and fosters a sense of caring for others. The effective program for service learning is characterized by: • Engagement of people in responsible and challenging actions for the common good; • Provision of structured opportunities for people to reflect critically on their service experience; • Articulation of clear service and learning goals for everyone involved; • Definition of the needs by those who have the needs; • Clarification of the responsibilities of each person and organization involved; • A match between the service providers and service needs through a process that recognizes changing circumstances; • Necessity of genuine, active, and sustained organizational commitment; • Inclusion of training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognition, and evaluation to meet service and learning goals; • Time commitment for service and learning that is flexible, appropriate, and in the best interests of all involved; • Commitment to program participation by and with diverse populations. It is both benefitial for the community and the students, so a country should have consistent and comprehensive programs for promoting and sustaining service learning. Key words: service learning, principles of a service learning program, community practice. Introduction

This paper is based on the experience that the author gathered as a visiting scholar at George Washington University under the Junior Faculty Development Program. Its aim is to make a literature overview of the method of service learning – a concept that the author got acquinted with exactly during her study visit under the JFDP scholarship and that hasn’t been implemented in her native country. Service learning is a method of teaching, learning and reflecting through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in their own communities. Alternatively, the National Youth Leadership Council of the United States of America defines service learning as “a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.”[1] It combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service, frequently youth service, throughout the community i.e. it combines the service objectives with learning objectives with the intent that the activity change both the recipient and the provider of the service. This is accomplished by combining service tasks with structured opportunities that link the task to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge content.[2] As a teaching methodology, it falls under the philosophy of experiential...

References: • Eyler, J., & D. E. Giles, J., 1999, Where 's the Learning in Service-Learning?, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
• National Youth Leadership Council , 2008, K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice, National Youth Leadership Council.
• Peirce, N.R., 1992, Community Service for Students: Good for Them and the Neighbors, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
• USA National and Community Service Act of 1990, 42 U.S. Code 12511;
• Witmer, Judith T., Carolyn Anderson, 1994, How to Establish a High School Service Learning Program, Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
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[1] National Youth Leadership Council , 2008, K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice, National Youth Leadership Council.
[4] Witmer, Judith T., Carolyn Anderson, 1994, How to Establish a High School Service Learning Program, Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, p 5 – 7.
[6] Witmer, Judith T., Carolyn Anderson, 1994, How to Establish a High School Service Learning Program, cit., p. 9 – 11.
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