The majority of high schools in the country offer community service programs that are not connected to classroom study and academic development. An important challenge is to develop service learning opportunities that are linked to class work and that promote reflection and academic growth. As students work with others to address community problems, service learning can be an effective antidote to the widely shared sense that nothing can be done about the problems that may pervade their communities, problems that all too often discourage personal and academic development.
Service Learning is a teaching strategy that connects classroom curriculum with service projects. Service learning engages students in projects that serve the community while building academic, social and civic skills. Educational research and more than twenty years of experience of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) NDCI staff members indicate that study of real life issues effectively engages students in the learning process. A national survey of high school drop outs (Bridgeland, et al. 2008) found that the top reason given for leaving school early was the perception that the curriculum was uninteresting. Seventy four percent of African-American, seventy percent of Latino and sixty four percent of all students surveyed indicated that service-learning could have a major impact on reducing the school drop-out rate. Service-learning has great potential to engage marginalized-socially vulnerable and economically disadvantaged-youth who may not have previously participated in community activities. The findings of an aggregate sample of more than 217,000 U. S. middle and high school students noted that principals in high-poverty, urban and majority nonwhite schools were more likely to report service-learning's impact on student attendance, engagement and academic achievement as very positive. Students with higher levels of service/service-learning reported high grades, attendance, and other academic success outcomes, and students with low SES with service/service learning scored better on most academic success variables than their peers with low SES who did not participate in service or service-learning (Scales, Roehlkepartain, Neal, Kielsmeier, & Boston, 2006).
Free 5 CPDU online workshop through Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Education
Integrate pressing life issues into classes across the curriculum to effectively engage students in learning and support social emotional growth
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