Types of Service-Learning


Types of service-learning activities include direct service, indirect service, advocacy, and community-based research. Who is served, and how they are served, distinguishes the different types.

Direct Service

Direct service activities require personal contact with people in need. These types of activities are generally the most rewarding as students, while in the process of helping others, receive immediate positive feedback.

Examples include students' working with senior citizens or reading to small children in intergenerational projects.

Direct service teaches students to take responsibility for their actions. They also learn that they make a difference by making a difference.

Community-Based Research

Community-based Research (CBR) is defined as a partnership of students, faculty, and community partners who collaboratively engage in research with the purpose of solving a pressing community problem or effecting social change.

Typical CRB projects include faculty, students and community partners working together to focus local attention on pressing community needs.

They might also include researching and evaluating new programs, evaluating and assessing existing programs, or creating qualitative and quantitative research tools.

Indirect Experience

Indirect experiences are commonly implemented in schools as they are easy to organize, involving students' working behind the scenes.

Such activities are often centered in channeling resources to a problem rather than working directly with individuals needing a particular service.

students sorting food cans for the annual food drive
Cans Around the Oval - 2009

Examples include collecting food or toys for disadvantaged families, participating in community park landscaping, and other such such social and environmental projects.

They are generally done by a group that won't even come in contact with the people they serve. Nevertheless, teamwork and organizational skills are learned and practiced.


Advocacy requires students to lend their voices and talents to the effort of eliminating the causes of a specific problem and to making the public aware of the problem.

Activities may include making presentations to the community about a particular issue or distributing literature related to it throughout specifically affected neighborhoods.

Students learn to present their concerns clearly, to be concise in presenting their ideas, and to suggest feasible solutions.