Service learning is a form of experiential learning, which is a core concept adopted by UniSA in order to increase student engagement. Internationally, service learning is growing in importance as a teaching and learning strategy that integrates application of discipline knowledge in actual community settings. The University has adopted the seminal definition that Service Learning is;
... a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility (p.112).
Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (1995). A service-learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning(2), 112-122.
Service learning is a particular application of practice based learning, and valuable for fostering those aspects of the Graduate Qualities that are more about personal attributes and value positions than simply work-related capabilities. In service learning, students use their developing professional knowledge in practical settings that are directed to the support of other people, whether as individuals or in groups. Service learning has a 'public good' dimension. It recognises the orientation to citizenship in the Graduate Qualities and reflects an understanding that the benefits of an individual's education in civilised societies are not simply those of self-interest, but admit an element of mutuality; a recognition that the societal support of higher education for some carries an expectation that the community as a whole will benefit. Service learning thus contributes to the equity mission of the University by acknowledging student work undertaken in relation to the support of others and embeds this orientation to the broader community in teaching approaches.
The University supports a range of programs that allow students to get recognition for undertaking practical experience in situations that allow them to apply their growing professional understanding for the benefit of others.
The University, through its Schools and professions, has a long history of engaging with a wide range of people and organisations in the community. This engagement takes place in many ways. For example, sometimes the engagement is about volunteering, other times it is about students working in their profession in a community organisation while in other situations students remain on campus and the community "comes to them". The diversity of permutations can make it difficult to discern what really is, Service Learning.
Involves learning in and with the community.
There is reciprocity built into the relationship in that the community benefits as well as the students.
Students are prepared and educated to enable them to appropriately and safely engage in the community.
The activity must enable learning and development that directly and intentionally enhances discipline knowledge and graduate qualities.
There must be structured time for reflection built into the course or project requirements.
Evaluation MUST include the impact on all stake holders.
Further assistance with Service learning is available from your