Center for Academic Service-Learning


What is service-learning?
Service-learning is a form of experiential learning that integrates academic study with relevant community service. The goal is to have students gain direct experience with problems or issues they are studying in their courses while reflecting on the problems and the solutions to these problems. An important part of the course is the opportunity for students to apply what they are learning to real world situations. Service-learning courses focus on the idea that giving back to the community is an important aspect of one’s education, and that working with community partners is important for promoting civic reresponsibility and good citizenship for work and for life.

What is "reflection?"
Reflection is critical thinking. The reflection process should be structured, and can for example, take the form of journal writing. Journal writing provides a means through which the relationship between service and course content can be progressively studied and evaluated. Furthermore, reflection encourages students to appreciate their future roles as socially responsible and civically engaged citizens.

Where does service-learning occur?

Service-learning occurs in many different settings, though the service typically occurs at the site of the organization, and in the community they are serving.

What is the difference between service-learning and community service?

Volunteers engage in service for a variety of reasons. Volunteerism or community service that is not linked to academic studies or academic credit is not considered service-learning. In service-learning, academic credit is for learning, and students should be graded on their academic performance and not for the hours of service. Do not compromise academic rigor. Similar to other courses, students should be evaluated on how they master the course content.

What is the difference between service-learning and an internship?

Student interns frequently work at for-profit businesses to benefit the financial standing of that business. Interns are not necessarily working to improve their communities through these internship experiences, but concentrating on pre-professional development. Sometimes, however, internships and service-learning can overlap. Students are engaging in service-learning, if, through their internship experiences, they are working to improve the welfare of their community while making the link to their academic studies. Internships that are not directly connected to an academic class are also considered pre-professional development and not service-learning.

Who benefits from service-learning?

There are many beneficiaries of service-learning, including the students, the community the students are serving, community partners, and faculty. Students enhance and deepen their learning through a guided service project that allows them to directly apply their knowledge and skills to real world situations. The community, including the community partner, also benefits from CLU students who are developing their expertise by providing them with informational, organizational, social, and technical services. Through service-learning, faculty implement valuable experience-based learning within course curricula.

What are the responsibilities of the community partner?

The responsibilities of the community partner include providing a service opportunity that complements student academic learning, along with adequate assistance to students and feedback to faculty.