Service Learning

What is ISL?
Service-Learning is a form of experiential education that has set learning objectives that are achieved through a combination of:

a) preparatory learning sessions (learn)
b) volunteer service project (act)
c) facilitated reflection (reflect)

Reflect, learn, act

In a service learning program, participants engage in a continuous cycle of learning, acting and reflecting.

Service learning differs from other experiential opportunities such as volunteer placements, internships or co-ops in that:

  • Service learning strives to achieve a balance between service and learning objectives – in service-learning, partners must negotiate the differences in their needs and expectations.
  • Service learning places an emphasis on addressing community concerns.
  • In service learning, there is the integral involvement of community partners – service-learning involves a principle-centered partnership between communities and sending institutions.
  • Service learning emphasizes reciprocal learning and the community partner as co-educator.
  • Service learning emphasizes reflective practice – In service learning, reflection facilitates the connection between practice and theory and fosters critical thinking.

What does Eiesl mean by “International Engagement?”

In addition to formal ISL projects, the EIESL project focuses on international engagement in a broader sense, such as:

  1. Students and volunteers in the first few years of their international engagement experiences, including phases before, during and after placement.
  2. Faculty, appealing to the faculty member as teacher and practitioner, rather than delving into ethical discussions surrounding the faculty member as researcher, although interconnected questions of scholarship will arise.

Why is IESL important, and why are ethics important to IESL?

Service-Learning has a huge potential to enrich classroom learning with ‘real life’ experience, to enable students to promote equity, and to work with and for communities – particularly those that are most vulnerable.

Yet there is a very real possibility of unforeseen and unintended negative impacts. If IESL took place in an ethical manner, it would be possible to combine both the valuable experiential experience it offers with possibly positive impacts on the host communities.