Service learning is a process of setting goals and applying classroom learning concepts to positively affect the community around us. I use service learning to help motivate students and enhance student engagement. Utilizing service learning helps promote self-directed and self-regulated learning and produces a sense of accomplishment by the students. I use service learning as a term project where students will choose a community health topic of their choice, assess the need for that particular service project, and work collaboratively with various members of the community to help promote sustainable change for the health and wellness of our community.
Another great thing about service learning projects is that it helps to build a relationship between the students, school and outside organizations. Service learning is beneficial not only to the students, who gain some great insight into the problems we face in our local communities, but it also helps the students to develop good communication skills and encourages them to work in multi-disciplinary groups. Schools benefit from a closer relationship with organizational structures in the community. By assessing local community needs the students, teachers and outside organization are all working together to create a better community for all of us.
I started using service learning within my classes as I was motivated by personal success that I have had with them during my own educational endeavours. While I was in my final year of nursing school at UBC-O I participated in a service learning project. I worked with one other person in my class and we were interested in getting a support group started. We surveyed the cancer center to see what their need was for this. It turned out that they did not have an existing support group for patients and families who were suffering from brain injuries. We organized a meeting spot and facilitated the first few support group meetings. Our goal was to get this support group to be self sustainable. To this day this support group is still operational and has served to help the patients and families who are dealing with brain injuries.