Center for Academic Service-Learning

Critera of Quality Service-Learning

The National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) has developed a matrix, which helps teachers examine the quality of their service-learning activities based on criteria established by experienced service learning educators across the country. The matrix is composed of three clusters:

  • Learning
  • Service
  • Critical Components that Support Learning and Service

Each cluster consists of essential elements as listed below.

Cluster I: Learning

  • Service-learning activities establish clear educational goals that require the application of concepts, content and skills from the academic disciplines, and the construction of one's own knowledge.
  • Students engage in tasks that challenge them cognitively and developmentally.
  • Assessment is used to enhance student learning and to document and evaluate how well students have met content and skills standards.

Cluster II: Service

  • Student engage in service tasks that have clear goals, meet genuine needs in the school or community and have significant consequences for themselves and others.
  • Service-learning activities employ formative evaluation of the service effort and its outcomes.

Cluster III: Critical Components that Support Learning and Service

  • Service-learning activities maximize student participation in selecting, designing, implementing, and evaluating the service project.
  • Service-learning activities value diversity in participants, practice, and outcomes.
  • Service-learning activities promote communication and interaction with the community and encourage partnerships and collaboration.
  • Students prepare for all aspects of their service work, including a clear understanding of the task, the skills and information required to complete the task, awareness of safety precautions, and knowledge about and sensitivity to colleagues.
  • Student reflection takes place before, during, and after service; uses multiple methods to encourage critical thinking; and is central in the design and fulfillment of curricular objectives.

Multiple methods are designed to acknowledge, celebrate, and validate student service work.