Service learning is an academic field that has unfolded and grown over the last decade, with roots in experiential education going back much farther. According to the American Association of Community Colleges:
"Service learning combines community service with classroom instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking as well as personal and civic responsibility. Service learning programs involve students in activities that address local needs while developing academic skills and commitment to their communities."
Service learning is similar to other forms of experiential education-internships, practicums, cooperative learning-but is also different because it meets social needs defined by the community, and because it uses reflection activities asking students to link practical service experiences with classroom studies.