Types of Service-Learning

Direct Service (work directly with people/clients/consumers)

Students providing direct service typically go to a site in the community and do an activity at that site on a regular basis (eg, once or twice weekly).

In class, students reflect on how the activity meets community needs and service-learning program goals.
Examples: Sociology/Chemistry/History/(other) students tutor K-12 students in the Palolo Pipeline Program. Creative Writing students plan and implement weekly activities with elders in the community and write found poetry from their words.

Direct Service (completion of a product for an agency)

Students complete a product requested by an agency.

Examples: Computer science students complete a database needed by the American Cancer Society to keep regional statistics on how their services are used. Speech communication students complete a promotional video for Hawaii Literacy, to explain the organization’s mission and goals. Psychology students complete a volunteer training manual for volunteers at a mental health drop-in center.

Community/Citizen Education

Students conducting community or citizen education plan or implement projects intended to educate community members about social or political issues.

Examples: Political Science students teach the “Kids Voting” curriculum to K-6 students during election year and assist with a voting booth for the kids on election day. Communications, English, and Anthropology students collaborate on a traveling photo and writing display about local farmers to educate the community about the benefits of purchasing locally-produced foods.
Notes: Most majors or courses can provide some type of community or citizen education.

Community-Based Research

Students conduct a research project and provide a report for a community agency or the broader community.

Examples: Economics students conduct a survey for the island of Molokai to determine what products people travel to purchase and why. The survey is used to determine what businesses are needed in the city.  They might partner with accounting/business classes to determine feasibility of certain businesses succeeding on Molokai.  A Statistics student surveys the staff at the local hospital to determine what they need to better meet the needs of new immigrants in the region.

Community Building

Students and community members engage in dialogue or other methods of building community.

Examples: Psychology students meet with community members at a homeless shelter, for a series of talk-story events about an issue.  They then plan and implement a relevant community-building event together. Political science students and local farmers meet for a series of dialogues about farm issues, land use, and politics, aimed at sharing knowledge and determining ways farmers and students can engage in the political process more directly.

Other Civic Engagement Activities

Students are directly engaged in efforts to increase their own or other citizens’ involvement in the community.

Examples: Nursing and Sociology students join a task force intended to increase the health of young people in the community and help with the board’s research and completion of recommendations for the school district. Political science students conduct a voter registration and education drive aimed at particular groups in the community that are least likely to exercise their right to vote.

Adapted from a University of Minnesota handout.