The K-12 Service-Learning Principles of Effective Practice

Youth Voice

Students are fully involved in identifying and implementing the learning and service activities.


Meaningful Service

The service-learning experience addresses a genuine community need. Students become aware of their ability to make the community a better place, gain an understanding of the relevance of applying their academic skills to community issues and experience the power of working together.


Curriculum Integration

The service-learning experience not only addresses a genuine community need, but also satisfies academic outcomes and objectives. In the process, state standards are met, providing a bridge between academics and the real world.



Reflection involves analyzing the experience through critical thinking at each step of the process. It involves the evaluation of what was done, the skills that were applied and what might have been done better.


Reciprocal Partnerships

The importance of this element lies in the potential for greater impact of the experience. Community-based partnerships ensure that a real community need is being me, that local resources are helping address the need and that all partners are learning from one another in the process.



This refers to the length of the project. Research is showing that projects that last at least one semester achieve the greatest results, both for the community and for the students involved.



This element refers to the importance of including diverse perspectives and experiences in all phases of the process and respecting the variety of abilities that all learners bring to the process.


Process Monitoring

This element refers to how students were assessed in their progress toward achieving learning objectives, as well as how the project was evaluated.