The following provides answers to typical questions CP students have in regards to service learning.
Image: Walsh, Matt. Unsplash, 2020.
Activities should be authentic and lead to significant outcomes. Find an activity which includes an element of personal challenge. Successful service learning experiences are likely to involve thoughtful planning, preparation and regular review of progress. Careful recording of actions and decisions as well as considered reflections are crucial. Think globally and act locally, and your service learning can have real impact.
Every school organises service learning differently and, essentially, it can take place at any time when you are engaged in community action. The IB states that 'the process of service learning is best understood and organised as an ongoing experience occurring with regularity'. Volunteering on a regular basis with a local animal shelter, for example, will give you the opportunity to make a significant contribution. One-off fundraising for a particular charity does not require the same level of personal involvement or commitment.
A meaningful service learning portfolio must be more than a series of unplanned or one-off experiences. However, a dynamic service learning portfolio is likely to include a range of one-off experiences alongside regular commitments. Just take care not to overcommit and allow sufficient time for your academic studies. Try and find a balance!
Any activity which is paid does not constitute service, e.g. babysitting or lifeguarding. You cannot include activities given a grade in school, such as music exams or sports awards. Practice hours, e.g. band practice or sports practice, are also excluded but playing in a voluntary performance outside school at a nursing home, for example, would qualify, as it is for the benefit of others.
You must keep a portfolio documenting your service learning activities. This must include evidence of active participation and reflections that document how you have met the learning outcomes. After discussion of your portfolio with your service learning coordinator or advisor in the three formal interviews, your school will report to the IB whether the service learning requirements of the CP have been satisfactorily completed.