How To Incorporate Service Learning

​​There are a variety of ways in which faculty can incorporate Service Learning into a course syllabus.​​

Individual Student Projects

You may offer Service Learning to students on an individual basis by encouraging them to seek a service site from the list of available agencies or choosing their own site with your approval. You may require all your students to participate, provide extra credit to those who choose to engage in Service Learning or accept Service Learning participation in lieu of a different assignment (instead of a research project, for example). However, it is important that students engage in service related to their classroom learning and that they complete reflection assignments. 

Group Projects

Students may participate in small groups or as an entire class. This type of project works well with a specified community partner and with precise student learning outcomes. 

Ongoing Service Programs

Faculty may establish ongoing partnerships with partner agencies, in which students from a particular course participate each semester. For example, an environmental geology course may include an assignment that involves testing the mineral content in streams and ponds for local parks.

Selecting Community Partners

Before selecting agency partners for their students, instructors should consider the learning outcomes for their courses. Selection of agencies and/or projects should be based on learning outcomes. A Service Learning Course Development Worksheet is available in Service Learning Forms under Faculty Forms/Resources. Service activities should be appropriate for course objectives.

Structured Reflection

Through the reflection process, students demonstrate understanding of the connection between classroom learning and the service project. Reflection should be more than a mere narrative of the service experience; it should involve critical thinking about the service activity and analysis of the relationship between the service and course content. Student reflection should enable students to enhance their civic engagement skills, examine their values and find personal relevance in the service. Reflection should:

  • Be based on the learning outcomes established before the service began
  • Take place before, during, and after the service activities​
  • Be a thoughtfully constructed process that challenges and guides student thinking
  • Connect the service work with coursework
  • Help students gain a deeper understanding of course material
  • Encourage the development of civic responsibility and citizenship awareness
  • Enable students to find relevance in the work