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What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

What is “reflection?”

Reflection is critical thinking. Structured reflection activities provide a means through which the relationship between service and course content can be studied and interpreted. In addition, reflection can encourage students to appreciate their future roles as socially responsible and civically engaged professionals. Reflection activities range from journal writing and small group discussion with the instructor to preparing class and community presentations. The CCESL Service-Learning Coordinator can help faculty develop reflection activities for students.

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

Service-Learning, like community service, seeks to make a valuable contribution to the community. Unlike community service, however, Service-Learning is designed to promote the curricular goals of a specified course through the application of classroom learning in service settings. Community service that is not integrated into the curriculum is not Service-Learning; it is simply service.

How do stakeholders benefit from Service-Learning?

Students acquire enhanced learning through a guided service project that allows them to apply their knowledge and skills to real world situations. Community partners gain from the developing expertise of USU students who provide them with organizational, social, and technical services. Faculty teaching is enriched through the introduction of experiential learning components within course curricula.

Does USU offer formal recognition for student involvement in Service-Learning?

Yes. Students can apply to the Service-Learning Scholars program.  USU Service-Learning Scholars must complete 400 hours of service to the community during their USU career, take 9 credit hours of Service-Learning course work and complete a Service-Learning capstone project. Successful completion of the program is recognized on the student’s graduation transcript. At graduation, students wear a Service-Learning Scholars stole and they are recognized in the commencement program.

How is Service-Learning incorporated into the curriculum?

Service-Learning is incorporated into the curriculum in three ways:

·      Service – "...a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities."  In this format, a Service-Learning project is assigned by the instructor as a required component of a course in the same way that a research paper might be.

·      Democratic Engagement – "involves students in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a meaningful difference through both political and non-political processes."

·      Community Research – "Community Research is a partnership of students, faculty and community members who collaboratively engage in research with the purpose of solving a pressing community problem or effecting social change."

What criteria does CCESL use for evaluating the quality of Service-Learning pedagogy?

The Service-Learning Faculty Advisory Board has developed course criteria for all Service-Learning courses. The CCESL Service-Learning Coordinator and members of Faculty Advisory Board are always available to assist faculty in meeting the guidelines.

Service-Learning courses require:

·       the service project to advance course objectives, address realidentified community needs, and involve meaningful student interaction with the community partner;

·       the project to assist in developing students’ awareness.

·       a syllabus that explains the scope and objectives of the community project and how student learning will be evaluated;

·       the course to provide structured opportunities for students to analyze the service experience, connect it to the subject matter of the course, and consider the project in the broader context of civic engagement and social responsibility;

·       that the instructor meet with the community partner in the planning stages of the course, when appropriate, to establish common goals, timelines, project assessment, and closure activities.

What do I have to do in order to offer a Service-Learning course?

Service-Learning designated courses must be approved by the Service-Learning Faculty Advisory Committee. The best way to begin is by contacting Kate Stephens, the CCESL Assistant Director and Director of Service-Learning. It is best to contact her before you develop your Service-Learning course.

How does USU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) process affect Service-Learning?

Teaching a Service-Learning course does not require IRB approval even if faculty and students are working directly with vulnerable populations. If, however, a faculty member intends to engage in a “systematic investigation” of the people served or the students involved in the project, and to share the results of that investigation with others, then IRB approval must be sought.

What responsibilities do community partners undertake when accepting Service-Learning students?

The first responsibility of community partners is to provide a service opportunity that complements student academic learning. The second responsibility is to provide adequate and consistent onsite assistance to Service-Learning students and project feedback to faculty.

What role does the Service-Learning Director play in offering academic Service-Learning?

The Director of Service-Learning sees that courses are designated as Service-Learning (SL) in Banner.  S/he can assist faculty in selecting projects that are appropriate for their courses and can provide logistical support to faculty and students engaged in service.  S/he maintains contact with community partners through the Tiered Partnership program, and helps both faculty and community partners to troubleshoot issues that might arise during the course of the project.

Does CCESL offer professional development opportunities for faculty?

CCESL offers several programs to promote faculty development:

·       a two-day Engaged Faculty Institute, sponsored by the University of Utah’s Bennion Center, to assist faculty in utilizing Service-Learning pedagogy

·       Faculty awards for exemplary contributions to Service-Learning

·       Development grants to assist faculty in establishing quality Service-Learning projects

·       Speed Networking event that brings together faculty and community partners

In addition to sponsoring Service-Learning, what else does CCESL do?  

There are multiple opportunities for USU students to engage in community service through CCESL.  The center houses 6 service programs, including the Val Christensen Service Center, Education Outreach (Work Study & America Reads), Utah Conservation Corps, Aggie Blue Bikes, Student Sustainability Office and Service-Learning. Whether engaged in community service or academic Service-Learning, CCESL gives USU students the opportunity to have a continuing, significant, and positive impact on Logan and the larger Cache Valley community.