Texas Tech University

Service Learning

What is Service Learning?

While there are many ways in which students and faculty may participate in community engagement, with a focus on reflection and reciprocity, service learning stands apart from experiences such as volunteering and internships. Through service learning, the needs of both the community partner and student are considered equally in the development of projects and service initiatives. In addition, in service learning there is an emphasis on critical reflection in which students are asked to make connections between course content and the service experience.

What is the definition of Service Learning at Texas Tech?

Service learning links civic engagement and learning outcomes and opportunities through thoughtfully organized service that meets the needs of the community. This service is a structured activity with an emphasis on reflection, which provides opportunities for students to learn and develop through critical reflection. (Adapted from the work of the TTU Service Learning Advisory Council, 2003).

Why get involved in Service Learning?

Service learning provides faculty opportunities to create dynamic learning environments for their undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to helping connect students and faculty to the community, service learning provides all involved with an enriched learning environment as students are able to realize the application of course content through their service experience. One Texas Tech faculty involved with service learning notes that "Service learning creates a space for the course material to shift from printed words on a page to a lived experience that alters the lives of my students and their communities.

What are the different ways I can engage my students in Service Learning?

There are three primary types of academic service learning. You may resonate more with one type than another, but all are valid ways to engage your students in an experiential learning process.

Direct: Direct service learning is characterized by person-to-person type interactions in which the student interacts directly with the community partner and those whom they serve. An example of a direct service learning project is a biology course in which students engage in teaching or demonstrating science experiments with young students at local elementary school or after school program.

Indirect: While indirect service learning can involve on-site service, the bigger-picture service learning project is frequently more product based. For instance in a marketing class, students may serve at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to familiarize themselves with people who are homeless, but their actual class project is to develop a new marketing brochure for a community partner who works with this population.

How can I get involved in Service Learning?

TTU has many ways for you to be involved with service learning. Texas Tech's Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center (TLPDC) can help you integrate service learning into your teaching and research, as well as provide you with opportunities and introductions to connect with potential community partners.

For more information and to get your course formally designated as a service learning course, visit http://www.depts.ttu.edu/servicelearning/S_Designation.php

For other Service Learning faculty resources provided by the TLPDC visit: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/servicelearning/Service_Learning_Faculty_Resources.php