There is a huge variety of community intervention experiences in which university students can develop a strong social commitment. However, not every experience with a social intention has the same impact on academic training or student learning, nor are they equally effective in solving the problems posed by the community.

In seeking to understand this diversity, it can be valuable to resort to the “service-learning quadrants”, a sort of map on which the complex and diverse variety of experiences that students have outside the university classroom can be located and systematized. Those familiar with the specialized bibliography will already be familiar with this tool, originally developed at Stanford University, which we have translated and adapted (TAPIA, 2000; 2006).

Clues to read the “quadrants”:

  • The vertical axis of the graph refers to the lower or higher quality of the service provided to the community. The “lowest” or “highest” service offered can be associated with various variables, such as the time spent on the activity, or the potential of the project to effectively meet a demand. Between these two extremes, the whole gradation from welfare to integral social promotion is deployed.
  • The horizontal axis indicates the lesser or greater integration of systematic or disciplinary learning into the service being developed.

The quadrants are delimited according to these axes, which allow differentiating four types of educational experiences.