Faculty and Service-Learning

What is Service Learning?

Practiced by over 1,100 universities nationwide, Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with academic instruction and structured reflection about the service experience. Through optional or required service-learning, students gain further understanding of course content, meet genuine community needs, and learn civic responsibility. Designed to provide students with opportunities to apply course concepts in a real-life environment, service-learning also creates opportunities for students to see their coursework or discipline in the context of social justice and promotes growth in all of the stakeholders in the service-learning process; students, community partner agencies, and classroom members.

Service learning can be:

  1. Discipline-based: students apply skills and information from the classroom into a real-world setting (e.g.: nursing students do blood pressure checks at the Red Cross Blood Drive)
  2. Project or Problem-based: student teams or entire class serve as “consultants “ to a community agency (e.g.: marketing students create a marketing plan for a nonprofit)
  3. Capstone: students draw upon the knowledge they have obtained through their course work and combine it with relevant service work in the community
  4. Action Research: students evaluate the status of a problem in the community and also create a plan for improvement or change regarding the problem.
  5. Pure SL: Intellectual core of class is focused upon the idea of service to the community and civic engagement.
  6. Service Internships: Discipline-based internships in which intentional reflection occurs throughout the internship

Adapted from Hefferman, Kerissa, (2001).Implementation. In Fundamentals of Service Learning Course Construction. Providence: Campus Compact.

Assistant Professor, Andrea Geyer and OSSA Director, Katrina Boedeker, share a real-life example of Project-based Service-learning. 

If you would like to learn more about service-learning or would like to explore further how you might add service-learning to a new or pre-existing course, please contact Katrina Boedeker, Director of the Office of Service and Social Action at kboedeker@sf.edu or x6791. We’d be happy to help in any way we can!