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Service-Learning Models

How to change a service event into a service-learning experience…

Basic Model

Remember two important elements of service-learning:  thoughtful, community-based service and meaningful, structured reflection.  Engage participants in the experience by asking the following questions.
Pre-service Questions:Self:  What do you hope to learn from the experience?Others:  What do you hope to learn about others?Community:  What do you hope to learn about the community?
Post-service Questions:

The P.A.R.E. Model

The P.A.R.E. Model offers a structured approach to high-quality service-learning experiences, which include the key components of Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Evaluation.


Preparation of participants for service-learning experiences increases the likelihood that there will be positive outcomes for both the students and the community.  Preparation should include:


No matter how important preparation, reflection, and evaluation are, meaningful action is critical to successful service-learning.  The bottom line for success is action that makes all parties involved feel that a measurable (even if small) difference was made! Issues to consider in planning the service experience are:


The work of learning theorists including Jean Piaget, John Dewey, William Perry, and David Kolb indicates that we learn through combinations of action and reflection.  Reflection is an essential component of service-learning that distinguishes service-learning from traditional volunteerism or community service.On the personal, subjective level, reflection can address such questions as:

On the objective, intellectual level, reflection questions can include:


It is essential to build evaluation into the initial design of the project so the project’s impact on both student participants and the community can be measured.  Developing evaluation criteria in the design stage enables planners to establish realistic and measurable objectives.


University of Maryland's Faculty Handbook for Service-Learning (1999).


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