Faculty Resource Guide

What are the benefits?

Research suggests that students who participate in service-learning are more likely to vote, stay in college, volunteer in their communities and overall they learn more (Campus Compact, 2000). Astin, Vogelgesang, Ikeda, & Yee (2000) found that service-learning has a positive impact on students’ academic learning. It not only has an impact on problem analysis, critical thinking, and cognitive development, but it improves students’ ability to apply what they have learned in class to the “real world.” The unique coupling of service and course material actually results in an increased retention of course material.

What are the goals?

What are the key components?

Academic rigor — Service-learning does not mean that classroom rigor is compromised; academic credit is for learning, not service (Howard).

Direction — Service-learning focuses students learning because it is centered on the academic course work of the class. The component of guided reflection helps direct students learning in order to fulfill the learning outcomes of the course. Service-learning is very purpose driven and thus students can draw connections between their service, course work and broader life circumstances.

Reciprocity — Service-learning is a way to extend learning beyond the classroom by working with community partners. The Central College model for service-learning allows for community partners to define their needs. The expertise that resides in community can be leveraged to enhance student outcomes.

Guided reflection — Reflection is the means by which students engage in conscious, intentional and critical thinking for the examination of a service experience.

Principles for integrating

  1. Academic credit is for learning, not for service.
  2. Do not compromise academic rigor.
  3. Set learning goals for students.
  4. Establish criteria for the selection of community service placements.
  5. Provide educationally sound mechanisms to harvest the community learning.
  6. Provide support for students to learn how to harvest the community learning.
  7. Minimize the distinction between the student’s community learning role and the classroom learning role.
  8. Rethink the faculty instructional role.
  9. Be prepared for uncertainty and variation in student-learning outcomes.
  10. Maximize the community responsibility orientation of the course.

Principles of good practice

  1. Engages people in responsible and challenging actions for the common good.
  2. Provides structured opportunities for people to reflect critically on their service experience.
  3. Articulates clear service and learning goals for everyone involved.
  4. Allows for those with needs to define those needs.
  5. Clarifies the responsibilities of each person and organization involved.
  6. Matches service providers and service needs through a process that recognizes changing circumstances.
  7. Expects genuine, active and sustained organizational commitment.
  8. Includes training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognitions and evaluation to meet service and learning goals.
  9. Ensures the time commitment for service and learning is flexible, appropriate and in the best interests of all involved.
  10. Is committed to program participation by and with diverse populations.


Reflection activities engage students in the intentional consideration of their experiences in light of particular learning objectives and provide an opportunity for students to:

Guiding principles for Cultural Awareness Experiential Module

The following guiding principles are to be used to determine whether an experience meets the cultural awareness experiential requirement. Experiences need only meet one of the options under either 1 or 2 below:

  1. Experiences in which students feel constructive marginality in their interactions with a well-defined culture or community. Constructive marginality involves giving students the experience of feeling marginalized by getting students out of their comfort zones and interacting in communities in which the students are the minority in a way that gives the students feedback for understanding.

    a) A culture is defined as a way of life in which members are aware of their cultural identity and have distinctive institutions, beliefs, values and rituals aimed at preserving and transmitting that culture (e.g., Native American settlement, ethnic neighborhood).

    b) A community is defined as residents of a structured setting designed for people brought together because of shared circumstances including mental and physical disabilities, poverty or incarceration (e.g., COC, homeless shelter, Knoxville VA Hospital, Correctional Release Center, nursing home).

  2. Direct interaction with individuals from well-defined ethnic or international groups. Direct interaction includes one-on-one action and appreciation, not just observation. It should be a meeting of equals. If services are provided by students such as tutoring, the students should also engage in other one-on-one interactions (e.g., conversing, eating meals together, worshiping together, playing sports together, working together) and should be able to articulate how they are being served through these interactions.

    a) Well-defined ethnic groups in the U.S. are those groups that have a common set of traditions and heritage (e.g., African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans). This category also includes interaction with members from well-established communities in which there is a conscious effort to perpetuate heritage (e.g., Decorah, with its adult education classes in Norwegian language, craft traditions, etc.)

    b) Direct interaction with individuals from other countries (e.g., recent refugees, international visitors) also qualifies.

Sample syllabi