• Basic Elements
  • Choosing and Collaborating with Community Partners
  • Using Standard Forms for Service Learning

Basic Elements of Service Learning

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

Service learning courses can be found in the UAB course catalog with the "service learning" attribute. Apply for the service learning designation for your course here.

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. 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
  • Class presentations


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 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.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ask about having and AmeriCorps VISTA from our office act as a Service-Learning Coordinator for your course.

Using Standard Forms for Service Learning

Faculty members teaching a service learning course may use the Service Learning Agreement Form if they deem it necessary. This agreement serves as a good framework of agreement between the faculty member, partner, and students. After the community partner, faculty member, and student(s) have signed the form, send it to the Office of Service Learning and Undergraduate Research.

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