Academic Service Learning: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Academic Service Learning?

It is a classroom-based program that involves students in some form of required community service and uses that activity as a means of understanding course concepts. It is a pedagogical approach whereby students engage in a service activity that benefits the common good. It is learning-by-doing.

What is the service learning pedagogy?

Service learning is a type of experiential learning that engages students in service within the community as an integrated aspect of a course. Students participate in an organized activity and reflect on that activity to gain further understanding of course content; a broader appreciation of the discipline; and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility. Service Learning engages students in active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning experiences to meet identified needs of an organization or community at large.

What are the goals of Academic Service learning?

The goals of Academic Service learning are:

  • To blend service and learning goals and activities in such a way that the two reinforce each other and produce a greater impact than either could produce alone
  • To enhance students’ learning by enabling them to practice skills and test classroom knowledge through related service experiences in a non-profit organization
  • To enable students to provide needed assistance to community agencies

What are the key elements of ASL?

The critical elements of ASL are:

  • Meaningful service to community
  • Clearly conceptualized connection between courses’ objectives and service activities
  • Structured opportunities for students to synthesize and derive new meaning from their experiences as they relate those experiences to course goals and objectives

What are the benefits to students who take ASL courses?

  • Hands-on use of skills and knowledge
  • Increased relevance of academic skills
  • Opportunities that accommodate different learning styles
  • Increased analytical skills
  • Increased civic responsibility
  • Better prepared graduates to face real world market
  • Opportunity to develop as effective leaders and engaged citizens

What are the benefits to the community from the ASL program?

  • Awareness-building of community issues, agencies, and constituents
  • Opportunities to contribute to the educational process
  • Short- and long-term solutions to community needs
  • Positive community relationships

How is Academic Service Learning different from volunteer work?

The actual work you do at an agency might not be different from what you would have done as a volunteer. However, your approach to the work is different in the ASL program. You will be looking at the place, the people, your experiences, and your reactions to find out deeper meaning that relate to your course content. You learn something about the course you are taking by working in the community.

What kind of projects do students do in an ASL course?

It depends on the course you take and the partner organization. It may involve:

  • Developing marketing materials
  • Planning and executing an internal control audit
  • Preparing a volunteer recruitment plan
  • Developing a business plan

What are some of the organizations that Berkeley has partnered with for ASL projects?

  • Gilda’s Club - NJ
  • FDNY Burn Center Foundation - NY
  • Eva’s Village - NJ
  • Covenant House - NY
  • Habitat for Humanity - NY, NJ
  • American Red Cross – NY, NJ, WST
  • American Conference on Diversity - NJ
  • Girl Scouts of America
  • New Jersey Community Research Institute
  • The Strategy Network - NJ
  • Paterson Museum and Clifton Arts Center - NJ
  • Jewish Home Life Care - NY
  • Partnership for the Homeless and Encore - NY