Definitions Related to Service Learning
The term "community engagement" refers to a focused effort on the part of those doing community service to partner with the community to offer a service needed by the community. Implied in this term is the idea that the person doing the work in the community has personally engaged the community and that they care about the need in the community and the effect the work will have in the long term.
Community-Engaged Learning/Service Learning
Service learning is a pedagogical method, the intention of which is to enhance the student's understanding of the material by engaging the community in a way that allows them to test theory learned in the classroom. The student performs some service for the community while gaining a deeper understanding of the course material being taught.
Typically, students are not graded on the actual service performed, as it is difficult to measure in academic terms the positive (or negative) impact students might have on the community as they do their work. Students should be graded on their critical reflections on their service as related to the theoretical component of their coursework. Instructors may assign reflective essays, research papers or other projects in which the students reflect critically on their service, vis-à-vis their more traditional, theoretical learning.
Volunteerism is the willful, non-coerced act of engaging the community in meaningful and beneficial work. By definition, volunteerism is not service that is required but is instead service that is willingly offered. Volunteerism can take placer over a long or short span of time.
Hit-and-run volunteerism is volunteerism that is done, usually on a one-time basis, with little or no follow-up after the service is rendered. This type of volunteerism is useful in times when community partners only need short-term help, or when volunteers offer their services for a brief period of time and never return to the site, whether further help is needed or not.
Community service is any service rendered to the community. Community service can take place in the form of volunteerism or through non-voluntary service, as in service-learning courses or through court-mandated service.
Stetson University embraces community engagement as a powerful means to prepare students for active citizenship. The Center for Community Engagement is committed to providing resources on community-engaged scholarship, which will help faculty to integrate community engagement initiatives into teaching, research and service.
In the book Participatory Partnerships for Social Action and Research, the term 'community-engaged scholarship' is defined as "scholarly activities related to research and/or teaching that involve full collaboration of students, community partners, and faculty as co-educators, co-learners, and co-generators of knowledge and that address questions of public concern." (Harter, 2010)
Some examples of the community-engaged scholarship model include components of community-engaged learning, such as service-learning pedagogies and community-based research (CBR), both of which emphasize addressing community needs and concerns. Service-learning and CBR applications provide complementary approaches for developing campus-community partnerships and optimizing student learning outcomes. Both are experiential and iterative processes in which students and faculty are called to collaborate with community representatives to devise creative solutions to existing challenges while experiencing the actualities of community life, and both utilize reflection as a way to process experiences and integrate theory and practice (Blundo, 2003). Service-learning and CBR, whether conducted at home or abroad, offer a rich array of benefits to Stetson students, faculty, and communities.