Service learning is generally defined as “an academically rigorous instructional method that incorporates meaningful community service into the curriculum. Focusing on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility, service-learning involves students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, respect for others, and commitment to the community” (Academy of Management, 2002). Service learning rests on the cognitive tenet that while, “we remember only 10% of what we hear, 15% of what we see, and a mere 20% of what we see and hear, we retain 60% of what we do, 80% of what we do with active guided reflection, an 90% of what we teach or give to others” (Alamo Community College Faculty Handbook for Understanding and Implementing Service Learning in the Classroom, 2003). A growing body of work has pointed towards the efficacy of service-learning techniques as an effective vehicle for preparing our future leaders to manage—and make a difference—in the increasingly complex networks of public, private, and nonprofit organizations of a modern society. Not only has research linked service learning with a variety of direct student learning outcomes—including enhanced student retention, academic performance, deep understanding, and leadership and team building skills (Friedman, 1996; Astin et al., 2000; Eyler, 2002)—but recent findings have shown that the increased civic engagement and social networks (Putnam, 2000; Astin et al., 2000) that go along with service learning can have powerful implications for long-term career success.
Accordingly, we were interested in determining how prevalent experiential and service learning activities were part of the regular campus curriculum. We found that 36.6.% of undergraduate faculty and 25% of teaching staff incorporate service-learning activities in one or more of their classes.
The range of specific service-learning projects reported by the faculty and staff was impressive: