Forms of Service

Service can take many forms. Usually though, the “service” in service-learning can be classified as direct service, indirect service, advocacy or research.

  • Direct Service
    Students’ service directly affects the recipients. The interactions are person-to-person and face-to-face, such as tutoring younger children or working with elders. Students engaged in direct service learn about caring for others who are different in age or experience, developing problem solving skills, following a sequence from beginning to end, and seeing the “big picture” of a social justice issue. Interacting with animals is also considered a direct service.
  • Indirect Service
    Indirect activities do not provide service to individuals but benefit the community or environment as a whole. Examples include restoring a wetland area, constructing park benches, stocking a food pantry, donating picture books to a Head Start program, and collecting clothing for families living in a shelter. Students engaging in indirect service learn about cooperation, working as a team, taking on different roles, organizing and prioritizing. They will also gain project-specific skills and knowledge that relates to academic content.
  • Advocacy
    The intent of advocacy is to create awareness of or promote action on an issue of public interest. Related activities include writing letters, sponsoring a town meeting, performing a play and speaking in public. Student advocates learn about perseverance; understanding rules, systems, and processes; civic engagement; and working with adults.
  • Research
    Research activities involve students in finding, gathering, and reporting on information in the public interest. For example, students may develop surveys or conduct formal studies, evaluations, experiments or interviews. They may also test water or soil, or conduct environmental surveys. Research based service-learning helps students learn to gather information, make discriminating judgements and work systematically.