SL Graphic_2

Service Learning for Students

Watch our videos below on Service Learning How To and how to correctly fill out your time log!


What is Service Learning?

Service Learning (SL) is a process of learning by doing that helps you as a student to deepen your understanding of course material. You will participate in on or off-campus activities and experiences with a community partner, which may include businesses, non-profits, or governmental agencies. You will also be asked to connect what you are doing at the Service Learning site with what you are learning in the classroom. Then, you will reflect on how these experiences have improved your understanding of course material. This form of experiential learning or learning by doing is mutually beneficial to both you as a student and the community partner. Service learning experiences promote community and civic engagement by helping students to realize their ability to use what they have learned to make a real difference in the community.


What is involved in Service Learning?

Service Learning may involve direct service or be project-based. In addition, Service Learning also requires that students participate in a structured reflection activity. For example, you might be asked to keep a journal or write a paper or answer questions about your Service Learning experience.

Direct Service Learning is performed on site, with you working either directly with clients or employees at an agency. This work should be beneficial to the community partner and educationally beneficial to you as a student. Examples of direct service work include:

  • Tutoring and mentoring students
  • Reading to third graders
  • Volunteering hours at a food bank or a homeless shelter
  • Facilitating health education programs
  • Developing and leading activities for people with disabilities

Project-based Service Learning may involve more abbreviated contact with an organization and the bulk of the work that you'll do focuses on developing a particular project that is beneficial to the community partner and of educational benefit to you as a student. Such projects have included:

  • Designing or upgrading a web site
  • Conducting telephone surveys or on-line research
  • Analyzing data and providing feedback to the partner
  • Designing informational or promotional materials.

Why Students Engage in Service Learning

student helping little girl learn letters

Service Learning provides students with:

  • Experiences to strengthen resumes and/or graduate school applications 
  • Career exploration opportunities
  • Professional networking resources and opportunities 
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Strengthened communication skills (both written and oral)
  • Enhanced academic understanding
  • An opportunity to apply academic content to real situations
  • Opportunity to develop empathy (understanding the experiences and situations of others)
  • Tools to build and strengthen leadership qualities and skills
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution skills
  • Heightened awareness of civic and social issues
  • Opportunities to meet and work with peers outside the classroom environment 

If you have questions about Service Learning, please talk with your faculty member or contact Dr. Dana Kivel, Director, Community Engagement Center,

Return to Top