The University of St. Thomas Service-Learning Program’s mission is to assist the University in serving others, specifically offering resources to meet the needs of the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Acting to fulfill the University’s vision of responding creatively to challenges posed by poverty, globalization, limited economic resources and changing demographics, as well as to the mission of Catholic universities delineated in Ex Corde Ecclesia, students are able to connect classroom theory with practical experience in the community. To quote the Campus Compact, “Service-learning is meant to expand opportunities for public and community service in higher education, and to advocate the importance of civic responsibility in students’ learning.”
A January 2000 study by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, “How Service-Learning Affects Students,” includes the following findings, “Service participation shows significant positive effects on all 11 outcome measures: academic performance (GPA, writing skills, critical thinking skills), values (commitment to activism and promoting racial understanding), self-efficacy, leadership (leadership activities, self-rated leadership ability, interpersonal skills), choice of a service career and plans to participate in service after college.”
Programs and Projects
Service-Learning provides students with experiences in which they can apply their theoretical and classroom learning to the real world of educational practice.
School of Education examples of service-learning projects include: building gardens for local elementary schools and creating dynamic projects for local school in literature, math, reading and science. Such programs include:
- Children’s Literature Night
- Super Science Saturday
- Lemonade Day
- A November Night with Numbers
Steps to Service-Learning Program Participation
- See your academic advisor.
- Register for a class.
- When class meets, learn about options for service placement.
- Agree to criteria set by the professor (e.g., a reflective paper).
- Complete contract to perform service hours in community.
- Be supervised and evaluated by the nonprofit agency.
- Fulfill hours and other criteria to receive grade and course credit.