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Community Partners

What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning at CSB/SJU

Partnering with a Course

Expectations for Students


Mandated Reporting

Service-Learning Language and Terminology


What is Service-Learning?

Barbara Jacoby defines service-learning as "a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of service-learning." Jacoby also notes the critical nature of the hyphen in service-learning as it "symbolizes the symbiotic relationship between service and learning" (Service-Learning in Today's Higher Education, 1996).

In addition to this definition, we also recognize the National Society for Experiential Education's Eight Principles of Good Practice for Experiential Learning Activities:

1. Intention

2. Preparedness and Planning

3. Authenticity

4. Reflection

5. Orientation and Training

6. Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

7. Assessment and Evaluation

8. Acknowledgment

Service-Learning at CSB/SJU

Service-Learning is one program located in the office of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement (ELCE). The Office of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement supports programs that empower CSB/SJU students to integrate and apply knowledge and theory gained in the classroom setting to a hands on learning environment, such that a deeper understanding is gained and demonstrated through clear learning outcomes. The office brings together students, faculty members, businesses, non-profit organizations and government partners to promote access to mutually beneficial partnerships through experiential learning opportunities.

All service-learning projects must meet the following learning goals:

Learning Goal 1: Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate and apply knowledge and skills gained from this course (and possibly previous courses) through their service-learning projects.

Learning Goal 2: Students will demonstrate specific ways (including written reflection) in which the service-learning project deepens their understanding of the knowledge and skills gained through traditional course work.

As a part of these goals, the Service-Learning Program has outlined the following requirements for all service-learning courses:

1. Students must complete a minimum of 20 hours of service throughout the semester

2. Additional learning goals and objectives should be outlined by the faculty member that connect service-learning to course content

3. At least one piece of written reflection must be required of all students participating

4. Partnerships between students and community must be mutually beneficial and contribute to the greater good of the community

5. Service-Learning should be integrated into classroom learning through discussion, content, activities, etc. It should not be added as an additional "add on" component in a course.

Partnering with a Course

The Service-Learning course strives to create intentional, mutually beneficial partnerships for students, faculty, and community partners. To do this, we partner organizations with specific courses which have designated learning outcomes that fit with the goals of the organization. To partner with a course, partners should submit a position description to the Service-Learning Coordinator. This position will be shared with appropriate faculty members to determine if it is a beneficial partnership. Partnerships are typically formed the semester before the service starts. Additional information about this position description is available.

Once a partnership is identified as being beneficial for all involved, the partner organization will be invited to the Service-Learning Fair. This fair occurs at CSB at the start of every semester and gives students the opportunity to connect with the partners with whom they have the opportunity to work. Partners should make every effort to have a representative available at this fair. At the fair, students will turn in their service-learning contract and list their top three choices for partnerships.

Students are notified the evening of the fair with which organization they are partnered. It is the student's responsibility to contact the partner at this point to begin the process of setting up an orientation and schedule.

All service-learning partner organizations must provide some type of orientation for their students. This orientation can be done on an individual basis or as a large group. Organizations may also choose to host an orientation on-campus at CSB/SJU. Organizations interested in doing this should connect with the service-learning coordinator to schedule a space.

Expectations for Partners    

The CSB/SJU Service-Learning program considers community partners to be co-educators in the service-learning experience. Our partners play a valuable role in mentoring, guiding and teaching our students. In order to ensure the best possible experience, we require the following of all community partners:

1. We ask that partners make every effort to attend and participate in the service-learning fair at the start of each semester. Partners who are unable to do this should speak with the service-learning coordinator about other options.

2. Partner organizations must provide an orientation for all service-learning students. This orientation should include expectations of the organization, procedures for communication and scheduling and logistical information about the organization and its physical space.

3. Partners should assist students with necessary paperwork, application materials and background checks. All background checks and liability forms are the responsibility of the organizations.

4. Supervisors should provide regular feedback and mentoring to service-learning students throughout the experience. While students can work independently at times, a supervisors should be accessible if necessary.

5. Any concerns regarding student conduct or behavior should be shared with the Service-Learning program. While community partners are never obligated to work with a student, we ask that steps are taken to provide appropriate guidance and feedback when conflict occurs.

6. Partners should enact a system for tracking student volunteer hours. The Service-Learning program will contact partners once per month to conform student hours. Any discrepancies should be shared with the program.

7. At the end of the semester, partners will be sent an electronic evaluation for each service-learning student. This evaluation should be completed by the requested deadline.


Transportation is the greatest challenge and barrier faced by the Service-Learning Program. Currently, we have two options for transportation for students:

• The use of a personal vehicle or car pool with a friend or class mate

• The ELCE mini-bus

The ELCE mini-bus is available to all service-learning students at no cost and is run and operated by a student employee bus drivers. The bus runs three routes in the afternoon/evening on Monday-Thursday and is able to go to most service-learning sites in the St. Joseph, Waite Park, and St. Cloud areas. Students must sign up in advance to ride the mini-bus. The Service-Learning office is happy to provide more information regarding the bus route, times, and availability upon request and will do their best to ensure accessible options for every class.

As we continue to look at ways to ensure that experiential learning opportunities are available for all students, we encourage you to contact administration and Metro Transit to advocate for transportation for CSB/SJU students.

Mandated Reporting

Students completing service-learning are legally considered mandated reporters. Students are required to report suspicion of neglect/abuse to site supervisor immediately.

Students Working with Children: Student is required to contact Angie Schmidt Whitney, Director of ELCE and CSB/SJU member of the Child Protection Report Team at (320) 363-55117 or  to report suspected child abuse/neglect within 72 hours of becoming aware of the incident. Angie will assist student in determining next steps. Student may contact Stearns County Human Services at (320) 656-6000, if Angie is unavailable within the 72 hour timeframe; however, student is still required to report incident to Angie as soon as possible. For additional information, please review the CSB/SJU policy on Reporting Suspected Child Abuse, available online at: Please contact Angie as soon as possible to follow proper protocol, in accordance with HIPAA.

Students Working with Vulnerable Adults: Student should report any suspected abuse or neglect to his/her site supervisor immediately. Please contact Angie as soon as possible to follow proper protocol, in accordance with HIPAA.

In some circumstances, this policy may be in violation of the organizations policies for client confidentiality. If you believe this is the case, please contact the Service-Learning Coordinator for appropriate accommodations.

Service-Learning Language and Terminology

Academic Coordinator-Student employees in the ELCE office who are assigned to oversee specific service-learning courses.

Community Partner-Organizations and programs that host service-learning students and serve as co-educators in the service-learning experience

EL-Experiential Learning. Service-Learning is one form of experiential learning. This is also a graduation requirement for CSB/SJU students which is met through a successful service-learning experience.

ELCE-Experiential Learning and Community Engagement. This is the office in which the service-learning program is housed. We also oversee academic internships, undergraduate research, the Bonner Leader Program, the Jackson Fellowship, Community Kitchen and other fellowship programs.

Hyphen-The CSB/SJU Service-Learning program chooses to hyphenate the term "service-learning" to note the critical, symbiotic nature between service and learning.

IP-Initial Presentation. The in-class presentation given at the beginning of the semester introducing service-learning to students.

Partnership-The Service-Learning program uses this term to describe the relationship between the student and their site. We do not use the term "placement" as it does not indicate the active participation of the student in the process.

Reciprocal Partnership-The service-learning program strives to achieve partnership that are beneficial to the student and the community to ensure a mutually beneficial experience.



For more information about integrating service-learning into your course, please contact Adia Zeman, Bonner/Service-Learning Coordinator at or 320-363-5237.