• Basic Elements
  • Syllabus
  • Strategies
  • Partnerships
  • Forms

Basic Elements of Service Learning

Service learning courses can be found in the UAB course catalog with the "service learning" attribute. A high quality service learning course incorporates these fundamentals:

  • Relevant service with a community partner: the community placement is related to course content, and vice versa
  • Community-campus partnerships that are mutually beneficial
  • Students engage in structured reflection throughout the course experience
  • Public dissemination of the work, preferably including a celebration or demonstration with the community partner

Apply for the service learning designation for your course here.

 

Basic Requirements for Service Learning in Syllabus

A course syllabus incorporating service learning should include service learning objectives, the expected number of service hours, integration strategies for linking classroom and service experiences, and the percentage of the grade that these activities will represent.

Integration Strategies

A service-learning course should provide suitable opportunities for reflection and integration of classroom and service experiences. Critical reflection is vital for students so that they can relate their service experience to the course content. Integration strategies include classroom or online discussions, structured written reflections, journaling, critical reflection papers, final papers, and class presentations.

Faculty members can assist students that are starting their service learning activities with the following information:

Choosing and Collaborating with Community Partners

To ensure relevant and meaningful service as part of a service-learning course, suitable community partners and projects must be carefully considered. The best service learning instructors develop and foster relationships with community partners. Review the list of Highlighted Community Partners for a number of excellent community organizations. This list is not a complete list, but it should serve as a good starting point.

Whenever possible, instructors should make the initial call to a community partner to ensure that the agency has suitable and timely opportunities for students that meet course objectives and expectations. Faculty members are encouraged to collaborate with the partner: visit the service sites, educate yourself about the organization and its mission, and talk to the partner about possible student and organization learning goals in order to gain a better understanding of how the service experience will relate to course topics.

After the initial contact has been made with the community partner, students can be encouraged to contact the community partner in a timely and professional manner to discuss potential service. A student should be transparent with the community partner about time constraints and any concerns around transportation or scheduling issues.

Using Standard Forms for Service Learning

Faculty members teaching a service learning course must use the Service Learning Agreement Form. This agreement serves as a good framework of agreement between the faculty member, partner, and student. The agreement also provides for signature by a University Signatory to make it binding on UAB. After the community partner, faculty member, and student(s) have signed the form, send it to the Office of Service Learning and Undergraduate Research. A signed copy will be returned to you.

Optional forms to use are the service learning time log, the mid-semester joint assessment, and the final student evaluation.