What is service-learning?

Service-Learning is a form of community-based experiential learning. At Stellenbosch, following the Bringle and Hatcher formulation, service-learning is defined as:
A curriculum-based, credit-bearing and carefully structured educational experience in which students:

  1. Participate in an organised community interaction activity that meets identified and agreed upon community goals, and
  2. Reflecting on the service activity in order to gain a deeper understanding of module content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of social responsibility towards society as a whole.

This form of community interaction gives impetus to the paradigm shift of the University from service-driven to academically-based community interaction.

Epistomology and Pedagogy

Service-Learning differs from other forms of experiential learning, but also have some commonalities. Below are the main epistemological points on which it is grounded

  1. There is recognition of the notion that learning can by enhanced by interacting in community context
  2. Knowledge emerges from experience and multiple sources of knowledge exist
  3. In the experiential learning cycle, a cognitive synthesis of theory and practice takes place
  4. Reflection is the bridge between the experience and the learning that takes place
  5. Student develop a higher sense of self-awareness while values and perceptions change
  6. This leads to attitudinal changes and compassion or sensitivity for cultural diversity is likely to develop
  7. There is a reciprocal relationship between the university and the community which facilitate benefit to all parties involved

Models of Service-Learning

Service-Learning may be practiced on both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. On post-graduate level it is likely to take the form of community-based research. Methodologies like participatory action research or action research may be applicable. One or more of following models of service-learning may be applied in different contexts:

  1. “Pure” service-learning
  2. Disciplined-based
  3. Problem-based
  4. Capstone courses
  5. Service Internships
  6. Community-based action research

For more information on these models, please contact the Office.