The most successful fundraising event in recent years has been a Feed the Need event, where students are sponsored (much like a Walk-a-Thon) to pack 10,000 meals for a third-world country. Whether it is Feed the Need, a project with Habitat for Humanity, a mission trip, a trip to the local nursing home, or a feeding shift at the local homeless shelter, there are a number of benefits to these service projects for a few reasons:
- They are highly interactive
- They are experiential hands-on activities
- They are relevant to the context of character building in helping someone less fortunate or in need of our help
According to research by Eyler and Giles (1999), Astin et.al. (2000) and Eyler et al. (2001), the positive benefits of Service-learning projects are:
- Service-learning improves student academic outcomes as demonstrated through complexity of understanding, problem analysis, critical thinking, and cognitive development (Astin et al., Eyler et al., Eyler and Giles)
- Students reported that they learned more and were motivated to work harder in a service-learning class than in traditionally taught classes (Eyler and Giles)
- Students and faculty report that service-learning improves students' ability to apply what they've learned in the "real world" (Astin et al., Eyler et al., Eyler and Giles)
And the personal benefits to the student are:
- stronger faculty-student relationships
- personal development growth in personal identity, spiritual growth and moral development
- interpersonal development
- cultivates stereotypes and facilitates cultural and racial understanding
- increases commitment to service
Sure, designing a service-learning experience, implementing that experience, learning through reflection, and assessment takes preparation, but the results are well worth it.
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