One of the best things about service learning is that you can specifically design it to fit into your classroom and/or community situation. Your project can be a one-day, stand alone project or a longer project that is ongoing or culminates on a specific day (e.g. Earth Day, Cesar Chavez Day). If you are new to service learning, start with a project that you have already done in the past and modify it to make it service learning or start with something simple within your own classroom before taking it out into the community.
Research shows that:
- Service learning participation was associated with higher scores on the State test of basic skills (Anderson, et al., 1991) and higher grades (Shumer, 1994; Shaffer, 1993; Dean and Murdock, 1992; O'Bannon, 1999).
- Students in over half of the high quality service learning schools studied showed moderate to strong positive gains on student achievement tests in language arts and/or reading, engagement in school, sense of educational accomplishment and homework completion (Weiler, et al., 1998).
- Middle and high school students who engaged in quality service learning programs showed increases in measures of personal and social responsibility, communication and sense of educational competence (Wieler, et al., 1998).
- Students who engaged in service learning ranked responsibility as a more important value and reported a higher sense of responsibility to their school than comparison groups (Leming, 1998).
- Students who engaged in service learning showed greater empathy and cognitive complexity than comparison groups (Courneya, 1994).
- Educators and students in schools with strong service learning programs reported more positive school climate through a feeling of greater connectedness to the school (Bill and Conrad, 1997; Wailer, et. al.).