What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning is a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an educational methodology where students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences. These opportunities enhance and extend learning beyond the classroom, apply academic skills and knowledge in real-life situations, foster a sense of caring for others, meet real school or community needs, create school and community linkages, are integrated into the academic curriculum or program, and provide time for reflection about what was learned. This form of learning emphasizes critical thinking and personal reflection while encouraging a heightened sense of community, civic engagement, and personal responsibility. Service is the Lions primary mission, and a key component of all Lions Quest programs. Service-learning projects should stimulate students' intellectual curiosity, guiding them towards active citizenship and positive social action.

Lions Quest K-12 programs are recognized by the National Youth Leadership Council, the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, and the Service Works Retrospective Evaluation as Highly Effective service-learning programs.

The Lions Quest approach to Service-Learning

Service-learning methodology is woven throughout the Lions Quest K-12 curricula and combines school and community service with curriculum-based learning linked to academic content and standards. Service-learning encourages civic education and participation in a democracy and is appropriate for all ages. The Lions Quest programs encourage all students to engage in service-learning projects in the school and community by joining with local Lions clubs and other school and community leaders. Service-learning expert Cathryn Berger Kaye identified seven essential elements of high quality service-learning:

  • Integrated Learning where students learn skills and content throughout the curriculum
  • Meeting Genuine Needs in the school and community
  • Youth Voice and Choice where students identify the need, plan, and carry out the project
  • Collaborative Efforts in which students and community partners work together toward goals
  • Reciprocity where mutual learning benefits those serving and being served
  • Systematic Reflection where students reflect on cognitive and affective aspects of learning
  • Civic Responsibility in which students practice the roles and responsibilities of democracy.

Lions Quest programs reflect these best practices in Service-Learning through:

  • Service-learning as a key educational methodology in the K-12 curriculum. In Skills for Growing for grades K - 5, service-learning projects are introduced in the middle of the school year and carried out throughout the rest of the year. Skills for Adolescence for grades 6-8 incorporates service-learning in Units 2 - 5. Skills for Action for grades 9-12 offers service-learning as the central instructional methodology to engage students in applying their academic skills in service to others and become engaged citizens in the democratic process.
  • Lesson plans that guide high quality service-learning. In each program, teachers have a step-by-step guide to the stages and methodology of high quality service-learning
  • Interdisciplinary service-learning projects carried out across the curriculum
  • Civic engagement opportunities that extend learning beyond the classroom
  • Participation of Lions Clubs whose motto is "We Serve" and whose mission is to engage young people in developing and practicing an ethic of life-long service and civic engagement
  • Ongoing professional learning that increases expertise in service-learning methodology


School children in Paraguay perform what they've learned from Lions Quest during last day of school ceremonies.

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