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In many college courses the goals for student learning are changing. Students are still expected to learn important facts, but there is a growing emphasis on the application of facts to solve problems and the relation of facts to real-life contexts outside the university setting. Students are expected to be familiar with more than just the traditional subject areas. It is important for them to think critically, collaborate with others, fit into an increasingly diverse community, and make a smooth transition from school to work. The content of what is to be learned is changing, and thus the methodologies of teaching and learning must change as well (Blum, 1995).
One methodology of teaching and learning that provides context for building academic and work-readiness skills is community-based learning, also called service learning.
Service learning is a form of teaching that combines instruction with meaningful community service experiences. It represents a holistic approach that reinvigorates the linkages between young people and the institutions that serve the broader community (Wade, 2000). When administered appropriately, a community-based learning course provides the following:
Planning: The more clearly the activity is framed, the more the student will get from the experience. It is particularly important to allow student involvement in developing learning objectives during the planning stage. The following are some basic steps to get started:
Activity: The activities themselves may be simple or complex.