Service Learning

What is Service Learning

A teaching method which combines elements of both Experiential Learning and Volunteerism to engage students in meaningful community service relevant to coursework by enhancing the participant's ability to comprehend and understand how course content is relevant. Students also develop a deeper understanding of curriculum and a stronger commitment to responsible citizenship through reflection and assessment activities facilitated by the educator. 


  • Students work in teams to develop Financial Literacy board game which is used to teach local high school students the basics of money management
  • Horticulture course establishes a partnership between students and local farmers to evaluate planting methods to enhance crop production
  • Tax Accounting students provide tax preparation assistance to low income individuals through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
  • Multimedia Design students work with community non-profit agencies to develop websites and promotional materials

Key Components

Planning and Preparation- Rather than simply showing up on site and volunteering, it is important for students to be actively involved in the planning process of service activities. This allows the participant to foster a deeper understanding of the issues the service is seeking to address.

Service- The core component of a strong service learning program is a significant service project (often semester long) where the participant is able to realize his/her direct impact on the benefactors of the project. 

Reflection- Challenges students to think beyond their assumptions and can occur through discussion, reading, writing and/or group projects.

Recognition- Can be formally included in the course design, or may informally demonstrate appreciation that acknowledges the value of student service.

Faculty Resources

Campus Compact: Provides sample syllabi and programs used in successful Service Learning Programs. Material on national and global projects and initiatives as well as grant information.

National Service Learning Clearing House: Provides examples of successful programs and includes information on grant opportunities to enhance course content

For more on-campus information:

Sylvia Burgess
Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs

Leslie Cothren
Student Activities Specialist