Service Learning

Palomar College

Benefits of Service Learning

What is Service Learning?

Service Learning is a hands-on approach to education. It can take place in a variety of community settings.

The Corporation for National and Community Service defines community service learning as “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instructions and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”

The two major components of community service learning in an academic course are:

  • The student’s participation in a community service activity connected to course materials and
  • The student’s active reflection on the meaning of that service

Reflection activities are the key to growth and understanding. Activities may range from classroom discussions to journaling to research papers. These assignments enhance student’s understanding of course content, general knowledge, self-awareness and a sense of civic responsibility.

Service learning provides many benefits for students, faculty and community agencies.

For students, service learning provides opportunities to:

  • Experience learning in the “real world”
  • Develop critical thinking, writing skills.  Develop civic responsibility.
  • Experience social and personal development.
  • Confirm (or not) an area of interest.
  • Learn about potential employment and gain field experience.
  • Makes students more marketable to large companies that value community service.
  • Help with admission to 4-year colleges, and scholarship support.

For faculty, service learning:

  • Can revitalize teaching efforts and can bring new directions and confidence to the teaching and scholarly pursuits of the faculty involved.
  • Reinforces concepts and theories introduced in class and promotes “deep learning” as students use skills and knowledge in real-life situations
  • Can provide links to academic content, standards, and SLOs
  • Improves interaction between faculty and students
  • Extends campus resources into the community and reinforces the value of the scholarship of engagement.

For The Community, service learning:

  • Connects students to nonprofit organizations and agencies that desperately need more volunteers
  • Provides awareness to needs in the community and to programs and services available
  • Brings fresh perspectives and knowledge to current volunteers, employees, and clients
  • Gives organizations the chance to meet possible future employees
  • Promotes empathy and responsibility through civil engagement


Corporation for National & Community Service. (2007). The impact of service-learning: A review of current                   research. Retrieved from                                                                                                                                                        

Prentice, M & Robinson, G. (2010). AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES Improving                      student learning outcomes with Service Learning. Washington DC. American Association of Community                Colleges.

Simonet, D. (2008). Service-learning and academic success: The links to retention research. St. Paul, MN:                      Minnesota Campus Compact.

Warren, J. L. (2013). Does service-learning increase student learning?: A meta-analysis. Michigan Journal of                Community Service Learning, 18(2), 56-61.


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                      Service Learning Supports the mission of Palomar College:

“Palomar College is an educational leader committed to quality learning. We provide our community the knowledge, information, skills and aesthetic appreciation necessary to live responsibly, effectively, and creatively in an interdependent and changing world.”