About Ser­vice Learning

What is Ser­vice Learning?

The American word "service learning" is composed of "community service" and "learning." It is often translated as "learning through engagement."

Service Learning is probably one of the most interesting and innovative teaching/learning methods currently practiced at universities: Embedded in curricular courses, students implement hands-on projects that serve the common good.

This usually involves close cooperation with partner organizations from the fields of social welfare, education, the environment, socioculture, human and civil rights, or rescue services.  Ideally, the university and non-profit/public institutions benefit equally from this cooperation.

Service Learning can be implemented in study programs of any discipline. The acquisition of ECTS credits is possible.

Learning (theoretically in the Service Learning course) and through practical application( in the volunteering project)

Benefit for the Learners - Benefit for the Common Good

Cri­te­ria for Ser­vice Learning at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kas­sel

For the University of Kassel, three criteria were developed in 2011 that courses must meet in order to be considered Service Learning:

  1. Students create real community impact in answer to a clearly stated need of the community partner or for the common good.
  2. Students' community-service experiences are linked to academic teaching; students reflect and evaluate their learning experiences.
  3. Students meet relevant stakeholders or people with different social backgrounds.

Dis­tinc­tions of Ser­vice Learning at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kas­sel

In contrast to many other universities in Germany ...

  • Service Learning is practiced here less for the acquisition of key competencies and more for the deepening of subject-specific competencies. > Therefore (with the exception of the SchlüsSL seminar) all courses with Service Learning are implemented by the university departments.
  • we consider Service Learning primarily to be a central method of knowledge transfer between the university and civil society. > Therefore, Service Learning is centrally coordinated and promoted by UniKasselTransfer, the knowledge transfer office of the university.
  • Service Learning is very widely supported: from the university leadership to the dean's offices to lecturers and students. > Therefore, more than 30 subject-specific courses with Service Learning take place each semester, which probably makes the University of Kassel the front-runner in Germany.

Re­a­sons in fa­vor of Ser­vice Learning

There are different reasons for being enthusiastic about Service Learning: Some appreciate it as a contemporary method of teaching higher education, others hope to increase students' professional skills or to encourage them to get involved in society. Recently, there has been an increasing emphasis on the social responsibility of universities, which is put into practice in service learning.

    Four lines of reasoning for Service Learning
    (Source: I.-M. Badur 2012)