Service-learning practitioners emphasize the following elements in formulating a definition of service-learning:
Service-learning involves students in community service activities and applies the experience to personal and academic development.
Service-learning occurs when there is "a balance between learning goals and service outcomes" (Furco 3). Service-learning differs from internship experience or volunteer work in its "intention to equally benefit the provider and the recipient of the service as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring" (Furco 5).
Service-learning course objectives are linked to real community needs that are designed in cooperation with community partners and service recipients.
In service-learning, course materials inform student service and service informs academic dialogue and comprehension.
Service-learning engages students in a three-part process: classroom preparation through explanation and analysis of theories and ideas; service activity that emerges from and informs classroom context; and structured reflection tying service experience back to specific learning goals. (Jeavons 135)