Service Learning: Standards and Research

Principles of Good Practice for Combining Service and Learning

In 1989, a Wingspread Conference was held in Wisconsin funded by the Johnson Foundation. The people participating in this dialogue session in 1989 developed a set of 'effective program principles' for service-learning.

They concluded, that our nation is founded upon active citizenship and participation in community life. We have always believe that individuals can and should serve.

It is crucial that service toward the common good be combined with reflective learning to assure that service programs of high quality can be created and sustained over time, and to help individuals appreciate how service can be a significant and ongoing part of life. Service, combined with learning, adds value to each and transforms both.

Those who serve and those who are served are thus able to develop the informed judgment, imagination, and skills that lead to a greater capacity to contribute to the common good.

The Principles that follow are a statement of what we believe are essential components of good practice. We invite you to use them in the context of your particular needs and purposes.

  • An effective program engages people in responsible and challenging actions for the common good.
  • An effective program provides structured opportunities for people to reflect critically on their service experience.
  • An effective program articulates clear service and learning goals for everyone involved.
  • An effective program allows for those with needs to define those needs.
  • An effective program clarifies the responsibilities of each person and organization involved.
  • An effective program matches service providers and service needs through a process that recognizes changing circumstances.
  • An effective program expects genuine, active, and sustained organizational commitment.
  • An effective program includes training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognition, and evaluation to meet service and learning goals.
  • An effective program insures that the time commitment for service and learning is flexible, appropriate, and in the best interests of all involved.
  • An effective program is committed to program participation by and with diverse populations.

For questions about this information, contact Victoria Rydberg (608) 266-0419