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Faculty and Instructors

What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning at CSB/SJU

The Experiential Learning Designation

Optional vs. Required Service-Learning


Community Partnership




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."

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.

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. 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.

The Experiential Learning Designation

Courses can receive the experiential learning (EL) designation in two ways:

1. Partnering with the Service-Learning Program and meeting the required expectations listed above. Students meeting these expectations have been pre-approved to earn the EL so long as they successfully pass the course in which they are enrolled.

2. Proposing the course to the curriculum committee and receiving approval. Faculty and instructors choosing this option may still partner with the service-learning program for assistance.

Optional vs Required Service-Learning

Faculty may choose to integrate service-learning as either an optional or a required component of their course. There are challenges and benefits to both of these options:

Required: Requiring service-learning ensures that all students participate. Often, students who are hesitant or challenged by a service-learning experience benefit the most and are pushed out of their comfort zone where the greatest learning can occur. It also provides a common intellectual experience for the entire class and can work well for courses utilizing project-based service-learning.

Optional: Optional Service-Learning requires students to "opt in" to the experience. This buy-in can mean that students are more invested in their experience and are not completing required service.  


Reflection is a critical component of the service-learning process. Reflection is essentially the "learning" in service-learning. The curriculum committee requires at least one written reflection component as a part of service-learning courses. Written reflections can include:

• Reflection journals

• Reflection posts submitted to the service-learning program

• Reflection Papers

• Reflection/Research combination papers

The Service-Learning program also encourages faculty to incorporate other forms of reflection into courses content these can include:

• Regular classroom check-ins, dialogue, and prompt questions regarding service-learning

• Art or creative works

• Reflection sessions

• The Service-Learning program is happy to assist with the design and facilitation of in-class reflection sessions

• Reflection sessions may include small and large group sharing, active work such as simulations and activities, guided journaling, etc

Community Partnerships

The Service-Learning program recognizes community partners as co-educators in the service-learning experience. As a part of their role as co-educators, community partners are required to do the following:

• Provide appropriate guidance for students regarding application/volunteer paperwork and background checks

• Provide an orientation of the organization and site at which the student is serving

• Provide appropriate mentorship and guidance throughout the students experience including constructive feedback when appropriate

• Complete an end of the semester evaluation that is shared with the Service-Learning program, faculty and student

Many community partners require a background check before students are able to serve at their organization. Some of these background checks have a fee associated with them. This fee is typically the responsibility of the student. If a fee is involved, the Service-Learning program will make every effort to communicate this in advance. If a student is unable to pay a background check fee, they are encouraged to contact the Service-Learning program so we can assist them with exploring resources.


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 Service-Learning Program is committed to frequent, effective communication with students, faculty/instructors, and community partners throughout the service-learning experience. To do this, we use the following communication strategies:

• Academic Coordinators-Each faculty member and course is assigned a Student Academic Coordinator from the ELCE office. This individual becomes the primary point of contact for students and faculty/instructors.

• Initial Presentations-Initial Presentations (IP's) are presentations given at the beginning of the semester to introduce students to their service-learning experience. This presentation is given by an ELCE student or staff member and covers required forms, procedures, expectations, and mandated reporting. We strive to tailor this presentation specifically to each course. This typically occurs on the second or third day of the course.

• Service-Learning Fair-This fair is held at the beginning of the semester and includes all service-learning partners. Students in service-learning courses are requested (or required) to attend this fair to meet with partners and learn about their organizations. At the fair, students can complete their service-learning contracts indicating their top three choices. Students will be notified this same night as to where they are partnered.

• Posting-The Service-Learning Program is happy to assist faculty/instructors with the process of tracking hours and reviewing reflections. The Service-Learning Program has transitioned to use Canvas as a primary tool for students to report their hours and service work. Academic Coordinators provide regular updates to students, faculty/instructors, and community partners regarding students' progress. Students and their instructors receive a bi-weekly email update and community partners receive an update once per month. This is done to confirm and verify students' hour totals

• Email-The Service-Learning Program is available via email at any time. The best way to reach a member of the service-learning staff is by emailing [email protected]. We strive to respond to all messages within 24 hours.

• ELCE Office-We welcome visitors to the ELCE office which is located in HAB 105. Students are encouraged to stop by to talk to a member of our staff with any questions they have or feedback they would like to provide.


The Service-Learning program strives to provide adequate assessment for faculty and instructors as well as for our program as a whole. Best practice in assessing service-learning asks that grading be based on the quality of the students' reflection as opposed to their actual service work. With this in mind, we also expect that students meet the minimum requirements set out for them and value the feedback of our community partners.

The Service-Learning program sends an electronic evaluation form to all community partners approximately two weeks before the end of the semester. This evaluation is shared with students as well as faculty/staff as a constructive learning tool.

In addition to the community partner evaluation, the Service-Learning Program also sends an electronic evaluation to all students participating in service-learning to provide general feedback on their experience to help us better develop our program.

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.


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