The Value of Service Learning

Service learning is defined as “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”.

As Geometry in Construction expands into more schools across the United States, there is a small growing subgroup of schools that are implementing service learning into the curriculum.   From the inception of Geometry in Construction, we have had a desire to see partnerships develop between high schools and non-profit organizations to enable service learning to take place.

At Loveland High School, I knew this would be good for our students due to experiences I have had with students in giving of service to others. However, I did not realize the body of research that backs this up.  Below is a summary of some of the research compiled by Phi Delta Kappan on K-12 School-Based Service-Learning.  Students who engaged in service learning…
·          Reported a higher sense of responsibility to their school than did comparison groups.
·          Were more likely to treat one another kindly, help one another, and care about doing their best.
·          Were more likely to increase their sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy.
·          Were less likely to be referred to the office for disciplinary measures.
·          Became more dependable, and felt more comfortable communicating with ethnically diverse groups.
·          Feel that they can “make a difference”.
·          Came to class on time more often, completed more classroom tasks, and took the initiative to ask questions more often.
·          Showed greater gains in measures of school engagement and in mathematics achievement than control groups.
·          Showed greater mutual respect to teachers.
·          Had increased attendance.
At Loveland High School, we have built 5 out of the 7 homes for non-profits.  Two homes were built for Angel House (aka Family Promise) for transitional housing for homeless families.  Three homes have been built for Habitat for Humanity.  With this year’s home, the Habitat family receiving the home has worked alongside our students daily.  The students are excited to be able to get to know the family as well as be able to build them a decent, affordable home.
If you have interest in moving towards service learning by helping a non-profit consider what your partnership would look like.  At Sturgis Brown High School, Sturgis, SD, the small class builds a 26 ft wide home that is moved in 1 piece down the street.  They build the home as far as they can get it and then the local Habitat finishes it.  In Vancouver, WA, two high schools, Evergreen and Mountain View, are building a 28’ X 40’ three bedroom home for their Habitat.  Their unique approach is that each school is building half (14’ x 40’) of the home on each of their respective campuses.
If you have questions how to proceed, contact us with your questions.

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