Office of Global Engagement

About Service-Learning

What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is a method of teaching through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in the community.`

Service-Learning includes the key concepts of reflection and reciprocity. As a form of experiential education, service-learning is based on the pedagogical principle that learning and development do not necessarily occur as a result of experience itself but as a result of reflection explicitly designed to foster learning and development. In service-learning, there is reciprocity between the “server” and the person or group “being served.” All parties in service-learning serve and are served, and all learn from one another.``

Service-Learning at Centenary

The Service-Learning Program at Centenary College has existed for over 15 years and serves as one of many ways in which Centenary students are given the opportunity to make their own positive difference within the local community.

As one of three parts of The Trek Experience, undergraduate students must complete this requirement in order to graduate from the college. Students must register to complete their Service-Learning requirement through one of the following opportunities prior to graduation.

  1. Community Course (CO 153)
  • Including Service-Learning Faculty-Sponsored Projects
  1. Community Credit Courses
  1. Community May Module
  1. Community Internship Program

To learn more about these Service-Learning options, click HERE.

How do students benefit from Service-Learning?

The Corporation for National and Community Service asserted in their issue brief The Impact of Service-Learning that students benefit most from service-learning experiences that have several characteristics: they should last for at least one semester, involve students in project planning, and combine academic content with structured reflection. The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse also funded a special literature review relevant to service-learning on the college level and found that service-learning has a number of positive effects on students.

Among those positive effects are:

  • Students understand themselves and other social groups better, experiencing a breakdown of racial and cultural stereotypes.
  • Students acquire good leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills.
  • Students gain a stronger sense of social responsibility and continue to serve their communities after graduation.
  • Students learn academic content better, applying scholarship to the real world.

How does Centenary College benefit from Service-Learning?

The benefits of Service-Learning to campus and community are also great. The service-learning program tends to improve student relationships with faculty and increase retention and graduation rates. Service-Learning also promotes good relationships with local communities and provides assistance to campus neighbors and Community Partners.

What's the difference between Service-Learning and Volunteerism?

The service-learning experience is designed to accomplish service goals and learning goals, without sacrificing one for the other.```

  • In volunteerism, the focus is on the service provided and the service recipient.
  • In service-learning, there is equal focus on the service context and the academic context.
  • Volunteerism yields specific service outcomes.
  • Service-Learning yields both service outcomes AND learning outcomes.
  • Volunteerism does not emphasize processing the experience.
  • Service-Learning places intentional emphasis on critical reflection that connects the service to specific learning objectives.
  • With volunteerism, the experience may be measured in the amount of hours served.
  • With service-learning, the experience is measured by the learning that takes place AND the service work accomplished.


`Ionia County ISD. (2007). Service Learning. Retrieved July 23, 2009 from

``Humbolt State University Service Learning Center. Faculty Guide to Service Learning, p.3. Retrieved July 23, 2009, from

```Lipscomb University. (2009). Service-Learning vs. Volunteerism. Retrieved July 23, 2009, from