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The Ripple Effect of Teaching with Service Learning

Last week, I was privileged to attend the final presentation of Kristy McDonald’s students about their BIG Little Hero Race they sponsored to raise funds for Big Brothers and Big Sisters.   Listening to the students describe their own growth during the semester due to her passion for Service Learning, I thought about some far-reaching benefits of this teaching approach.

All of her students valued being able to contribute to the community as they engaged in learning.  Many students plan to be involved again next year, long after the course is over.  Others described how they will bring what they learned to other volunteer efforts.  Talk about paying it forward and the Power of One!

Header image from the Facebook Page

From the class-created Facebook Page

Consider these hypothetical numbers:

(1 instructor) x (25 students) x (4 classes) x (2 semesters) x (20 years) =

4000 students engaged in learning and making a difference! 

For those who wonder if the rave reviews from students on their future intentions for continuing to volunteer and the long term impact on our community, I offer my college parallel experience over 20 years ago as evidence of the life-changing ripple effect.

  • As a psychology course requirement, I volunteered as a Big Sister.  As a result, I chose a psychology undergrad major.  Prior, I was an undecided, unmotivated, underachieving 19-year-old.
  • After obtaining my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, I taught inner-city students, using those same service learning and project-based learning strategies.  One of my former students even went on to win the NC Debate Championship!
  • Service learning has been a steady part of my life since that first course, and I was thrilled when NMC joined Campus Compact as one more way to support service learning.

Want to know more about how to incorporate service learning and project-based learning in your own course(s)?  Contact a member of the NMC Service Learning Advisory Board and/or come to the NMC courseDEV Institute, where we will be learning a variety of ways to improve our own teaching.

Race on…and start your ripple effect today.  


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