Community Interaction
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Forms of Engaged Learning @ SU

Experiential learning

Engaged teaching and learning has a strong link with experiential learning, but is also informed by other educational theories such as social constructivism and activity theory.


This cycle, designed by Luzelle Naude of University of Free State, implies that a curriculum related experience can give students the opportunity to observe and interact in real life situations, reflecting on the activity in such a manner that theory makes more sense and come alive in their future actions.


Service-learning is a form of experiential learning and considered by Stellenbosch University as the preferred pedagogy to integrate community interaction into the curriculum.


Experiential learning is learning by doing. Doing normally occurs outside the classroom in the community in a cyclic process leading to enhanced academic learning, critical thinking and reflection and development of the student as a whole while community needs are being addressed through service activities.

The definition of service-learning distinguishes it from other forms of experiential learning by seeking reciprocity between student learning and service the community. It is often also referred to as community engaged learning, curriculum-based community engagement or curricular community engagement.

We define service-learning as:

A curriculum-based, credit-bearing educational experience that is structured to allow students to participate in an organised community interaction activity with a community who benefits from the students' engagement an from which the students can learn.

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Service-learning gives impetus to the paradigm shift of the University from service-driven to academically-based community interaction.

Academic staff drives the implementation of service-learning modules in academic programmes, but the faculty may decide to redesign a module to include service-learning


What is a Service-Learning Module?

Service-learning modules may be found within any discipline that contains a community interaction component which is credit-bearing. The module coordinator forms a partnership with a community organization which normally leads to a collaborative project where students render a service according to expressed needs of the community. The service hours of the students are structured within the time frames of the module and the learning process evolving from that earns the student academic credit. Learning is measured through reflection and assessment.

Work Integrated Learning

WIL is used as an umbrella term to describe curricular, pedagogic and assessment practices, across a range of academic disciplines that integrate formal learning and workplace concerns. 

WIL could thus be described as an educational approach that aligns academic and workplace practices for the mutual benefit of students and workplaces; in this regard, WIL should demonstrably be appropriate for the qualification concerned. 

The integration of theory and practice in student learning can occur through a range of WIL approaches, apart from formal or informal work placements. WIL is primarily intended to enhance student learning, and to this end several innovative curricular, pedagogical and assessment forms have developed in response to concerns about graduateness, employability and civic responsibility; examples include: action-learning, apprenticeships, cooperative education, experiential learning, inquiry learning, inter-professional learning, practicum placements, problem-based learning, project-based learning, scenario learning, service-learning, team-based learning, virtual or simulated WIL learning, work-based learning, work experience and workplace learning (HE Monitor 2011). 

The most commonly used forms of WIL are problem-based learning, project-based learning and workplace learning. All these forms of learning have many similarities with other forms of experiential learning and in particular grounded on learning by doing and reflecting on learning as a link between theory and practice.