When people ask me about service learning at Loyola, they’re usually asking for numbers. So here are some numbers for those who like that sort of thing:

Last year, 602 unique Loyola students participated in service learning activities in conjunction with 59 different service learning courses offered in 18 departments and programs at Loyola. These students documented 20,265 hours of service learning on behalf of 56 unique partner agencies, for an average of 33.7 hours per student. This is approximately equal to 10.5 years of full-time labor. According to Independent Sector and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the in-kind value of these service learning contributions is $391,718.  Since 2009, the in-kind value of all service learning hours documented by Loyola students is $1,554,264.  In 2010, just 28% of graduating seniors had taken a service learning course during their time at Loyola.  Just three years later, by May 2013, 65% of graduating Loyola seniors had taken at least one service learning course.  55% of the partner agencies formally engaged through Loyola’s service learning program last year have been consistently partnering with Loyola every semester for the last three academic years (some longer).

This tells you a bit about the quantity of service learning at Loyola.  I think this is pretty impressive, particularly compared to other, larger universities.  However, I believe we should care more about quality than quantity.  If we’re doing things right, Loyola students aren’t just doing lots of service learning, they’re making thoughtful, beneficial contributions and serving in a spirit of humility and “well-educated solidarity” rather than the self-congratulatory manner of some college service programs.

Here’s a glimpse into the quality of service learning at Loyola.

According to assessment surveys, 80% of students said that service learning helped them apply things they learned in class to specific cases.  75% said that service learning gave them skills that helped them do better in the class.  79% of service learning students said they believed they could contribute to a more just world through their actions and choices. Here’s one I love: 62% of community partner organizations reported that Loyola service learning students continued to volunteer after the conclusion of their formal service learning commitment.

Here are some other observations, in students’ own voices:

“I enjoyed working with and seeing results during sessions with handicapped adolescents.”

“The kids always made me laugh and feel better if I was sad or upset.”

“Service learning allowed me to step back from my life and my stress and hang out with people. It was relaxing, and I left feeling better than I did when I entered.”

“It was interesting to connect biology to the jobs it provides.”

“I learned more about accounting. Service learning showed us a little about what its like to be an accounting intern.”

“I learned about the risks of stroke, how to prevent it and facts about heart disease that I was not aware of before.”

“I enjoyed speaking with the ESL students in Spanish. They all understood how difficult it is to learn a language and since they are in the middle of that process.”

“I learned more about the New Orleans community and saw a side of New Orleans I had never seen before.”

“I loved having the opportunity to go to places outside of where I usually go and meet with people I normally would.”

“The staff were great role models and opened up a lot more ideas I hadn’t considered for my future.”

“I enjoyed interacting with seniors. A lot of times it’s not about doing a “service” but just being there to genuinely interact. Many of the conversations I had helped me visualize the culture in which these seniors had lived and hear from them first hand how their life was constructed.”

“I enjoyed getting real world experience with a prominent organization.”

“The best part was seeing the joy in the students’ eyes when they finally grasped a concept and furthered their education.”

“I really enjoyed teaching Spanish-speaking immigrants English so that they can improve their lives in the United States in regard to their work, specifically their relationships in the workplace, and feel a sense of belonging. It was a pleasure to see just how much my students showed dedication to learning English and about American culture. They were always so eager to learn, and it truly filled me with joy.”

“Service learning helped me further my passion: Closing the Achievement Gap.”

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