Why service learning?

Flint, Michigan, Study
A study by Smartworks Incorporated (n.d.) surveyed service-learning students in Flint, Michigan in Grades 3, 5, 8, and 10 about their learning.

  • More than two thirds of students reported that their participation helped them understand what they were learning in school and improved their academic achievement.

Evaluation of School-Based Service Leaning in Indiana ( Morgan, n.d.)
Results from a study of Indiana 's Learn and Serve grantees show service-learning to be an effective pedagogical approach by educators that empowers and revitalizes the teachers who use it. It showed positive effects on student grades, attitudes towards school and education, and civic education.

  • Overall GPAs were seen to improve from about a B average to a B+.
  • Students' political knowledge increased (from 70% of asked questions answered correctly before service to 85% after completing service).
  • Improved attendance was noted, and students arrived to class better prepared, were more likely to discuss school out of class, and developed more confidence in public speaking.

Michigan Learn and Serve Study (Billig & Klute, 2003; Klute & Billig, 2002)

  • Service-learning students in Grades 7-12 reported more cognitive engagement in English/language arts (e.g., paying more attention to schoolwork, putting forth effort) than nonparticipants.
  • For students in Grades 2-5, students who participated in service-learning reported greater levels of behavioral, affective, and cognitive engagement in school than their nonparticipating peers, showing statistically significant differences in the effort they expended, paying attention, completing homework on time, and sharing what they learned with others.
  • Service-learning students in the 5th grade demonstrated significantly higher test scores on the state assessment than their nonparticipating peers in the areas of writing, total social studies, and three social studies strands: historical perspective, geographic perspective, and inquiry/decision making.
  • The two aspects of service-learning that were most closely associated with positive results were linkage with curriculum and direct contact with those being served. (Meyer, Hofschire, & Billig, 2004)
  • On the MEAP, 5th-grade service-learning students outperformed their non-participating counterparts on the overall science and social studies scores.
  • For older students, significant differences were found for three of the nine student engagement variables.
  • Aspects of program quality, such as teacher ratings of service-learning quality, student ratings of their service-learning experiences, and indicators of service-learning quality moderated the impact of service-learning.

What's Happening

In the first quarter this year, students studied about homelessness, nutrition and the Omaha Food Bank. Students then set out to collect food for the food bank. This year was our top year for collection. Turning this into a service learning project increased the end results. 

The second quarter this year, students studied child abuse and then set out to collect what they could for the Child Saving Institute. This included mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, jackets and coats. Some tree classes decided to make blankets for these children. The staff donated money towards gift cards for these families. Way to go Morton!

When we return to school we will be focusing on childhood disease. Students will learn about childhood cancer and organ transplants. They will debate health care options. There will be two drives related to this topic. In March students will collect pennies for the Leukemia Foundation. During most of the second semester they will be saving pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. So start saving those up!