The most important responsibility of MDC’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy is to help faculty develop and implement high quality service-learning experiences into their courses. We are excited to assist you as you transform the teaching/learning process to improve learning and create a new generation of citizens.
If there is a crisis in education in the United States today, it is less that test scores have declined than it is that we have failed to provide the education for citizenship that is still the most significant responsibility of the nation’s schools and colleges.
Frank Newman, Higher Education and the American Resurgence
Service-learning has become a major force in American higher education to improve academic learning, leadership, civic and democratic involvement, and prepare students for the workforce and for lives of engaged citizenship.
Miami Dade College faculty are part of this massive national effort to reclaim the civic mission of higher education by combining academic learning with course-related service. Connecting academic study with community service through structured reflection is widely recognized as contributing to learning that is deeper, longer-lasting, and more portable to new situations and circumstances. Hundreds of MDC faculty are helping transform students into active citizens with the skills and desire to build a better world. Phenomenal results are being achieved to improve academic learning, meet MDC’s learning outcomes, and transform our community.
Service-learning is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience that allows students to (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs, and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Service-learning addresses community-identified needs while helping students meet academic, social and civic learning goals.
- prepares students for their roles as professionals and citizens;
- changes the teaching/learning process;
- improves the way higher education programs relate to their communities, enabling community organizations and community members to play significant roles in how students are educated; and
- enhances community capacity.
Students involved in service-learning are expected not only to provide direct community service but also to learn about the context in which the service is provided, the connection between the service and their academic coursework, and their roles as citizens.
Service-Learning – how is it different from volunteerism, community service, and internships?
Volunteerism and community service involve activities where the primary emphasis is on the service being provided and the primary intended beneficiary is clearly the service recipient (e.g. providing food to the homeless during the holidays).
Internships are primarily for the purpose of providing students with hands‐on experiences that enhance their learning or understanding of issues relevant to a particular area of study.
Service-learning differs from community service, volunteerism, and internships in four distinct ways:
- 1. The service activity is integrated with academic curriculum and content.
- 2. Students engage in reflection activities before, during, and after their service experience and apply their learning in real-life activities.
- 3. There is a focus on civic learning and civic skills.
- 4. The service benefits both the service recipient and the students.
How and why is service-learning important?
Students learn more when they are actively involved in what they are learning than when they are passive recipients of information. Service learning is "active participation" in learning and one of the most effective forms of active learning.
Benefits of service-learning:
- provides quality education;
- increases the relevancy of education to students 'living in a real world;
- enhances personalized education for students;
- teaches positive values, leadership, citizenship and personal responsibility;
- empowers students as learners, teachers, achievers and leaders;
- invites students to become more engaged members of their own community;
- teaches job skills and prepares students for careers after college;
- encourages faculty to be innovative and creative in their teaching;
- contributes to a MDC’s outreach efforts to the local community, the state and beyond;
- increases campus-community collaboration and partnerships; and
- contributes thousands of hours of service to people in need, non-profit agencies, and governmental agencies.