Other Youth Topics

Differences from Community Service

During the past decade, the number of schools that engaged students in community service was greater than the number of schools that offered service-learning as part of their curriculum. Consistently, about two-thirds of the public schools in the United States recognized or arranged community service, but only one-third of the schools offered service-learning.1 Although service-learning and civic engagement can be related, they are not the same thing.2 Service-learning differs from community service and volunteering in two distinct ways:

  • The service activity is a form of experiential learning that is integrated with academic curriculum and content.
  • Students engage in reflection activities after their service experience and apply their learning in real-life activities.3

Results from the Youth Volunteering and Civic Engagement Survey4 found that students who reported that they participated or were participating in service-learning were more likely to engage in activities that promote civic engagement. Compared with peers who did not participate in service-learning, service-learning participants were

  • 71 percent more likely to report that they will volunteer in the upcoming year;
  • 62 percent more likely to be interested in world events;
  • more likely to talk about politics with friends and family; and
  • more likely to believe they can make a difference in their community.

1Skinner & Chapman, 1999; Spring et al., 2009
2American Psychological Association, 2010
3College of Southern Maryland, 2010
4Corporation for National and Community Service, 2006