Girls planting with NGR

Service learners vs. volunteers

Loyola students do a lot of wonderful volunteer work in the community. Service learning students do so in conjunction with an academic course they’re taking.  Their volunteer work is part of their class grade, so service learning students need ongoing supervision, signed timesheets and end-of-semester performance evaluations.  In return, however, service learning students have an added level of accountability for the quality and consistency of their work.

Anyone can volunteer at any time for any reason.  Meaningful volunteer work often leads to transformative learning, but this connection becomes explicit in service learning.  Community-based activities are embedded within classes or other formal learning contexts and meant to help participants achieve specific learning goals.

Service learning emphasizes mutuality.  All participants in service learning should benefit, learn and grow from the experience.  Service learning also emphasizes critical reflection on the conditions which create the need for various types of community service.