Why Do It?
A focus of the Contra Costa Community College District mission is to foster active and meaningful relationships with the community it serves. Unlike four-year institutions, where students often come from a different city, state or country, and plan to leave the area when they finish their education, community college students usually reside near the college.
Because the student body has local roots, community colleges are in an ideal position to utilize educational opportunities provided by community sites and to support and encourage students who want to actively contribute to their community.
Service learning is an important educational strategy used by faculty to develop meaningful partnerships between campus and community that enhance both student learning and community life. Although service learning does require some planning, along with trial-and-error to develop the most effective service-learning approaches for a particular class, the effort can improve student learning, student retention, curriculum development, faculty professional development, and student leadership.
Service learning builds on a tradition of activism and volunteerism which was popular in the sixties but greatly subsided during the seventies and eighties. However, the tradition of volunteer service saw a rebirth in the late eighties when cultural, educational, and civic leaders challenged higher education to fulfill its historic mission to promote civic responsibility. Many colleges accepted this challenge and created a support network---Campus Compact---to develop and promote service learning as a pedagogical strategy. Service learning is now a national movement found in the majority of colleges and universities in the United States.
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