What works in service-learning?

What works in service-learningA new white paper from Projects That Work at Catholic University seeks to identify “what works” in service-learning projects in middle and high schools across the country by examining what happens, how well it happens, and what factors inhibit or optimize it happening.

In Wave 1 of the research, researchers made several observations about effective service-learning projects:

  • Projects were more feasible when an adult from a community partner was involved with the project.  Students who worked with community partners also felt that they learned more and made a bigger difference in their communities.
  • Projects went more smoothly when teachers provided specific information for students about project implementation.
  • Projects that were closely aligned to academic standards led to greater student learning but were more difficult to implement
  • Students felt they learned more from projects that involved reflection activities like related readings, class discussions, and opportunities to demonstrate the project’s impact

What recommendations would you add from your own experience?  Let us know in the comments.

The entire Wave 1 white paper is available from Projects that Work.  You can read an interview with Dr. Edward Metz, lead researcher for Projects that Work, and find about about how to get involved in the study, in this article from Youth Service America.