Tennessee Promise

Center for Service-Learning & Civic Engagement

What is service-learning?

According to the National Commission on Service-Learning, service-learning:

  • Links academic content and standards
  • Involves students in helping to determine and meet real, defined community needs
  • Is reciprocal in nature, benefiting both the community and the service providers by combining a service experience with a learning experience
  • Can be used in any subject area so long as it is appropriate to learning goal
  • Works at all ages, even among young children

Service-learning is not:

  • An episodic volunteer program
  • An add-on to an existing school or college curriculum
  • Logging a set number of community service hours in order to graduate
  • Compensatory service assigned as a form of punishment by the courts or by school administrators
  • Only for high school or college students
  • One sided - benefiting only students or only the community

The distinctive element of service-learning is that it enhances the community through the service provided. Additionally, it also has powerful learning consequences for the students or others participating in providing a service. Service-learning is growing so rapidly because of its demonstrated benefits for communities, schools, students and faculty.