What is the SLP Model?

The SLP model of effective service learning consists of five phases, each of which is as student-driven as possible, given the age and experience of the participating students:


During the first phase, students consider their community and brainstorm social issues of concern. For younger students, the community can be narrowly defined as the classroom or after-school club. The community expands with the age of the students, with older grades encouraged to consider issues ranging from a school or neighborhood problem to an international crisis. Guided by SLP Faculty, students of all ages come to consensus on one issue.


Once an issue is selected, students enter an intensive research phase during which they become experts on their social problem. They determine the cause and impact of the problem, existing policies or methods to address it, and a better strategy for preventing or solving it. This phase could include gathering data through surveys and petitions; interviewing or writing letters to people or organizations with knowledge of the issue; reading books, magazines and newspapers; doing research on the internet; meeting in person with local legislators and adults working in the field; and taking field trips.


Student-led research continues throughout the project but once they have enough information, SLP faculty and partner site staff guide students through the creation of an Action Plan. Whether it’s adults living in their community or the legislators representing them, students will persuade them to adopt a new policy or change their behavior in order to effectively address the social problem they select.

The action students take will vary greatly depending upon the issue they choose.


Students implement the action they have designed. This may involve several activities over a period of time, or a one-day culminating event. If their solution requires approval, the Execution phase will include the creation and delivery of a formal advocacy presentation.


Critical reflection takes place throughout the process as students investigate the root causes of social problems and the possible courses of action for solving these problems.  After the execution of a project, it’s important for students to also evaluate the personal impact of the experience.  Students are encouraged to consider what they learned about themselves and what skills they developed.  How can they use these new skills going forward?  Do they feel a responsibility to take a leadership role? Do they feel more optimistic about their ability to solve problems in their schools and neighborhoods? Do they have a better understanding of the possible avenues of change?

This phase of the process can also include formal or informal recognition and celebration of their success.  And, if they haven’t done so already during the Execution phase, students can share what they have learned with their school, parents, and other community members.