Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that utilizes experiential education to integrate and engage students in activities that address human, community, and environmental needs.
Experiential Education is a philosophy in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to learn.“First-hand experience trumps any lecture, conference, or book.” -Stephanie Wang, Junior, UT-Austin
Society’s aspirations for higher education have changed. Higher education experts, government and business leaders, and society at-large are calling on higher education to sustain and increase its commitment to resolving social problems and meeting human needs while also focusing more sharply on student learning and development.
“The Final Report of the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates” published by The University of Texas at Austin states: “solutions must support non-classroom academic enrichment experiences… because those activities are often highly enriching and integrating.” Research shows that students who engage in academic enrichment programs outside of the classroom are more successful in their classes, better connected and more satisfied with the university, and are more likely to graduate. The report calls for prioritizing and valuing both social and academic integration, especially for first-year students. Service learning is uniquely positioned to satisfy these initiatives, because it provides students with the opportunity to use experiences helping others to bond with classmates and strengthen their understanding of classroom material.
The Division of Recreational Sports Service Learning Program is looking for student volunteers to join a new citizen science initiative called “Longhorn Stream Team”. Student volunteers who complete the Longhorn Stream Team paddlers training will learn to collect water quality data to support conservation efforts and academic research supported by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Longhorn Stream Team please follow the link below.
Service learning has tremendous potential as a vehicle through which universities can meet their goals for student learning and development while making unique contributions to addressing unmet community, national, and global needs. Service Learning enhances learning by breathing life into a subject and contributes to student learning by: