Sac State University Policy Manual

Community Service Learning

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Authority:FS 98-58
Effective Date: 10-22-98
Index Cross-References: Service Learning
Policy File Number: FSC00030.htm


Community Service-learning courses and/or course components include three essential elements. They:

    1. provide meaningful community service with public benefit organizations and programs
    2. require structured reflection on the relationship of that service experience to academic course content
    3. promote civic and social responsibility.

Community Service-learning courses differ from other forms of experiential education.


  1. Departments or programs may offer Community Service Learning (CS-L) in two formats: (l) CS-L may be embedded in course requirements, or (2) a l-2 unit, credit/no credit CS-L option may be attached to a regular course offering with a maximum of nine units to be applied to the undergraduate degree.

  2. Community Service-Learning units that are optional add-ons to regular courses shall require for each unit of credit, 30 hours or more of community service with a public benefit organization or program, and 15 hours of structured reflection activities. CS-L embedded in course requirements may vary from 10 hours to 60 or more hours, depending on whether a CS-L project is the central focus of the class or only one of several requirements. The number of hours of reflection activity needed to relate the CS-L experience to course content will vary accordingly.

    In cases where CS-L is embedded in the course, the course may be letter graded if the CS-L component is less than or equal to l/3 of the basis for grade determination. In courses where the CS-L component is greater than l/3 of the basis for grade determination, the course shall be graded credit/no credit.

    Structured reflection is the vehicle for linking service to academic content and assessing student learning. It shall require students to articulate how the service experience affirms, expands, integrates, or calls into question the academic content of the course. Reflection shall be supervised by a faculty member and include specific student activities, e.g., journal writing, small group discussion, oral presentation, essay writing.

  3. Academic credit shall be given for learning, not for service: merely putting in the specified number of hours at a service site is not an academic activity and does not earn academic credit. Credit is earned for relating the service experience to academic content through the reflection process.

  4. No more than 10 percent of a service-learner's service time shall involve tasks that have little or no intellectual challenge, e.g., filing, verifying addresses on a mailing list. departments offering the courses are ultimately responsible for the placement of students and for ensuring that community partner organizations provide students with service experiences that enhance learning.

  5. Courses with Community Service-Learning components shall follow the normal Department, College, and University course approval and evaluation processes.