What service learning is all about

Service learning is one of the four interrelated core components of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Career-related Programme (CP). It is an enrichment programme that will enhance your academic studies. You must be engaged in service for a period of at least 18 months from the start of the CP. During this time, you will have great opportunities to make a positive difference to your community.

Put simply, service learning is active citizenship.

Image: Ocean Cleanup Group. Unsplash, 2020.

You can choose and design your own service learning experiences, applying your interests, skills and talents in a practical, hands-on way to help others. It is also a chance for you to learn new skills, show initiative, problem-solve and work as a team. In fact, all those transferable skills employers are looking for!

Completing a range of service activities will help you meet the learning outcomes of the CP core.

There are four different types of service outlined below.

  • Direct service is where you engage directly with people. This could be volunteering in a food bank, mentoring younger students, sports leadership in a local primary school, or designing and building an eco-garden with local residents.

  • Indirect service is where your actions benefit the community in an indirect way. This could be writing a picture book to teach a language to younger students or nurturing seedlings to be planted in your local park.

  • Advocacy is where you promote awareness and understanding of an issue. This could be performing a play about bullying to younger students, helping organise a Model United Nations conference, or creating a video about sustainable water solutions.

  • Research is where you collect information and report on an issue with a view to influencing policy or practice. This could be about local environmental concerns or social research in which you interview local people on topics such as unemployment or homelessness.

There are infinite options for the activities you could propose. Some students start their own service learning initiatives whereas others choose to participate in existing programmes.

You are required to devote a minimum of 50 hours to service learning and will need to demonstrate your participation by keeping a portfolio of evidence and reflection. You can do this on ManageBac.

The presentation below can be used to introduce service learning to students and members of staff who are unfamiliar with with this IBCP core element. It can also be used as a further introduction to this student guide. Coordinators and teachers are welcome to use and adapt.

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