Definition of Service-Learning

A course-based, credit-bearing, educational experience in which students learn to relate theory to practice by participating in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and then by reflecting upon the service activity in such ways as to meet instructional objectives, and gain a broader appreciation for the discipline and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Criteria for Service-Learning Course Designation

Service-learning courses should meet the minimum criteria below:

  • Service or other engagement activity is integrated within course content and supports its academic focus, with a minimum of 15 hours of community engagement by each student in the course.
  • Students are involved in engagement of value to the community, as evidenced by collaboration with the community itself.
  • Structured opportunities for guided reflection occur at multiple points of the course.
  • Clear demonstration of service-learning learning outcomes and their assessment are included in syllabus.
  • The course does not require a student to participate in an activity or project that creates a religious or political conflict for the student.

Institutional Learning Outcomes of Service-Learning

In addition to discipline-specific learning outcomes, Service-Learning courses should include institutional learning outcomes that are consistent across the university.

  • Analysis of knowledge: Connects and extends knowledge (facts, theories, etc.) from one's own academic study/field/discipline to civic engagement and to one's own participation in civic life, politics, and government. (AAC&U, 2011)
  • Diversity of communities and cultures: Reflects on how own attitudes and beliefs are different from those of other cultures and communities. Exhibits curiosity about what can be learned from diversity of communities and cultures. (AAC&U, 2011)
  • Civic action and reflection: Demonstrates independent experience and shows initiative in team leadership of complex or multiple civic engagement activities, accompanied by reflective insights or analysis about the aims and accomplishments of one’s actions.(AAC&U, 2011)
  • Civic contexts/structures: Demonstrates ability and commitment to collaboratively work across and within community contexts and structures to achieve a civic aim. (AAC&U, 2011)