Service-learning (1) has positive effects on understanding social issues, (2) generates personal insights, and (3) leads to cognitive development; as confirmed by a recent meta-analysis. This is the strongest support you can get, because a meta-analysis reviews all relevant research studies, and looks for the core findings in these studies. In this meta-analysis, 40 research reports about service-learning have been analyzed. The results are clear: service-learning has a triple impact.
1. when the learner is actively engaged in a service experience that meets a real social need
2. the service enhances what is learned and has to be learned in the workplace
3. the experience provides time for reflection and discussion
With the emphasis on real-life experiences and deep involvement in achieving a relevant outcome, service-learning has shown to lead to three areas of impact:
Understanding social issues, which includes cultural awareness and sensitivity, ethical decision making, interpersonal skills, understanding the needs of a particular audience, and feelings of responsibility and ownership.
Personal insights, including awareness of oneself in terms of strengths and weaknesses, awareness of career aspirations, self-efficacy, self-esteem, determination, and persistence.
Cognitive development, including management skills, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking skills
Studies conducted in both business and non-business organizational contexts showed the same triple impact of service-learning. Thus, with a tendency these days to create learning opportunities away from the classroom, in the real-world, the format of service-learning can be a very effective and rewarding learning experience, with triple benefits for both the learners and their organization.