Academic Service-Learning at QCC
What is Service-Learning?
"Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities." (Learn and Serve America)
Service-learning is not:
- Free labor
- Volunteerism or community service (meet the needs of others and communities; do not emphasize learning and reflection)
- One-sided: benefiting only students or only the community
Why is service-learning important?
A growing body of research recognizes service-learning as an effective strategy to help students by:
• Promoting learning through active participation in service experiences;
• Providing structured time for students to reflect by thinking, discussing and writing about their service experience;
• Providing an opportunity for students to use skills and knowledge in real-life situations;
• Extending learning beyond the classroom and into the community; and
• Fostering a sense of caring for others.
Service-learning also strengthens both education and local communities by:
• Providing engaging and productive opportunities to work with others in their community;
• Building effective collaborative partnerships between colleges and community-based organizations;
• Developing a first-hand understanding of the social action skills required for active civic engagement; and
• Meeting community needs through the service projects conducted.
(Learn and Serve America)
The Service-Learner newsletter highlights our successes each semester.
Academic Service-Learning at QCC
Service-learning supports the mission of Queensborough Community College. In 2006, QCC was selected as one of only eight colleges nationally to receive a prestigious grant by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to develop service-learning initiatives.
Service projects began on campus in spring 2007 and are now integrated into classroom learning in a variety of courses. Projects underway or under development allow students to apply knowledge or skills they are learning in their classes to projects that assist local community-based organizations. The projects must meet the college's general education objectives and the distinct course learning objectives. Faculty collaborate with a community partner to design a project based on the organization's specific goals and needs. Activities and assignments are then developed to meet these needs as well as the general education and course outcomes. An entire class or a number of students within the class may engage in a project. In some cases this component involves going "on-site" to the organization; in others, students do class projects that serve the organization's needs while spending little or no time at the site (e.g., a math class analyzing data for an immigrant-serving community health organization). The college's grant is part of the AACC's national initiative, Community Colleges Broadening Horizons through Service-Learning.
Two AACC publications highlighting the grantee college programs (including QCC) are available: a Project Brief which describes the Horizons colleges and "Improving Student Learning Outcomes with Service Learning". The second report reveals that students who participate in service learning score higher on institutional learning outcomes such as critical thinking, communication, civic responsibility, academic development, and educational success. Service learners also saw themselves as more competitive in the job market than those who did not have service learning experience. The Horizons project is supported by the Learn and Serve America program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.