Tip 1: Understanding Basic Elements of Service Learning

Faculty contemplating incorporating a service learning component in an academic course in any discipline should visit the Service-Learning Course Designation page to get an overview of the required elements:

  • Enhanced Academic Learning
  • Purposeful Civic Learning
  • Relevant and Meaningful Service with the Community

Tip 2: Contact the Office for Service Learning

Contact Libba Vaughan in the Office for Service Learning at libbav@uab.edu or 996-7080 to set up a meeting to discuss course objectives and how service learning may be used to meet those objectives.

Tip 3: 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.

Tip 4: Integration Strategies

A service-learning course should provide suitable opportunities for reflection and integration of classroom and service experiences. Students benefit from ongoing structured opportunities to relate their service experience to course content. Integration strategies include classroom or online discussions, structured written reflections,  journaling, critical reflection papers, final papers and class presentations. Faculty should include in-classroom discussion opportunities for students to relate their service experience to course topics. For more on reflection and integration, please see the Reflection Packet.

Tip 5:  Choosing and Collaborating with Community Partners 

To ensure relevant and meaningful service as part of a service-learning course, it is necessary for faculty and/or students to carefully select suitable community partners.  Faculty and students should review the list of Highlighted Community Partners provided by the Office for Service Learning for a number of excellent community partnerships. Where appropriate, please encourage students to select sites from this list so that they can gain a sense of being a part of an ongoing effort between the community partner and UAB. Students may wish to continue their service assignment upon completing a course, and such community partners provide excellent opportunities of this sort. 

Wherever possible, faculty should make the initial call to a community Pprtner to ensure that the agency has suitable and timely opportunities for your student to engage in that meet your course objectives or expectations. Faculty members are encouraged to visit the community partner service sites, be informed about and involved with the partners, and gain an understanding of how the service experience will relate to course topics.

After the intitial 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. 

Tip 6: Using Standard Forms for Service Learning

It is recommended that faculty teaching service learning courses review and download the Service Learning Forms. These include a Service Learning Agreement, Community Partner and Student Mid-Semester Joint Assessment; Community Partner Final Evaluation of Student; and Student Evaluation of Community Partner. Please provide the Office for Service Learning with a class list and indication of where the students are doing their service.
The Service Learning Agreement Form reflects an understanding between the Student, Community Partner Supervisor, and Faculty Member as to what the service learning experience will entail. The Agreement provides for signature by a University Signatory to make it binding on UAB. The Office for Service Learning will arrange for such signature once the forms have been signed by Community Partner, Student and Faculty Member. Please contact libbav@uab.edu or 996-7080 in this regard.

Tip 7: Ongoing Support From UAB Office for Service Learning

UAB's Office for Service Learning offers support to ensure that service learning is a collaborative and rewarding experience for students, faculty and community partners. We encourage you to contact us for further resources and support and to share your best practices with us. Please contact Coordinator of Service Learning, Libba Vaughan at libbav@uab.edu or 996-7080.