Service Learning

Service learning is a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service or practice. It models the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome (Kuh, 2008). This form of learning emphasizes critical thinking and personal reflection, while encouraging a heightened sense of community, civic engagement, and personal responsibility. Service learning is an innovative high-impact practice that is gaining increased attention in higher education. Educational research suggests that service learning, along with other high-impact practices, increases rates of student retention and student engagement. According to Brownell and Swaner (2010) this practice is thought to lead to higher levels of student performance, learning, and development than traditional classroom experiences.”
  • What is the purpose of a Service Learning Program?

    Service Learning:

    • meets the unique needs of new generations of students
    • leads to desirable learning and personal development outcomes
    • gives students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community (Kuh, 2008)
    • connects community service to the classroom by giving students the opportunity to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences (Kuh, 2008)
    • brings the resources of the institution on important local, national, and international problems
    • is good student preparation for citizenship, work, and life (Kuh, 2008).
  • What are the components of a successful Service Learning program?

    (Brownell & Swaner, 2010)

    • Create opportunities for student reflection
    • Ensure that faculty connect classroom material with the service experience
    • Require enough service hours to make the experience significant
    • Focus on the quality of the service, ensuring that students have direct contact with clients
    • Oversee activities at the service site
  • Why Should Faculty integrate service learning to their course?

    (Loyola University New Orleans)

    • Service learning can help students learn more and be more engaged during class time.
    • More than three-quarters of faculty who teach service learning classes report that it brings positive recognition from departments, colleges, and professional associations or networks.
    • Service learning is a form of community engagement which can enhance a faculty member's CV.  Service learning can also be considered in promotion and tenure decisions.
    • 80% of faculty who have taught a service learning course say the experience gave them new teaching ideas.
    • Service learning can generate ideas and partnerships for community-based research and scholarly projects.
  • Service Learning Course Designation

    UTRGV requires that officially designated courses meet defined criteria in course design. However, course content, readings, and activities remain at the sole discretion of the faculty member teaching the course. These criteria are based on nationally recognized standards and have been established to enable the institution to document and assess service learning activities in a consistent fashion and to tie institutionally recognized community engagement activities to agreed upon practices and definitions. Designations are given on a section-level (on an instructor basis for a singular course). Download a Service Learning Faculty Resources Packet.

    Application Procedures

    1. Complete Service Learning Designation form available https://utrgv.submittable.com/submit
    2. Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) will review the submission in coordination with the Office of Engaged Scholarship & Learning (ES&L).
    3. The instructor will be notified by email of approval or suggested revisions. In the case of revisions, the CTE will be available to assist the instructor with aligning the proposed service activities with the definition and core components.
    4. Once approved, ES&L will request the course section be designated in Banner/Assist as Service Learning (SL).
    5. Faculty with an approved SL course will need to ensure students submit liability release forms in a timely fashion and track student service by using the Engagement Zone platform. Assistance in both of these areas and other areas related to designing and implementing a service learning course is available with ES&L and CTE.

    Continuation Procedures

    For all approved SL designated courses, ES&L will contact the instructors via email to inquire if they will be teaching the course again with service learning. ES&L will assist faculty with course setup on Engagement Zone and will be available by request for class presentations on service learning and Engagement Zone. 

    No additional review or approval is needed. Three years after the course has been designated as Service Learning (SL), the instructor must complete the Renewal Procedures described below.

    Renewal Procedures

    1. Service Learning Designation form will be sent to each faculty member individually.
    2. Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) will review the submission in coordination with the Office of Engaged Scholarship & Learning (ES&L).
    3. The instructor will be notified by email of approval or suggested revisions. In the case of revisions, the CTE will be available to assist the instructor with aligning the proposed service activities with the definition and core components.
    4. Once approved, ES&L will request the course section be designated in Banner/Assist as Service Learning (SL).
    5. Faculty with an approved SL course will need to ensure students submit liability release forms in a timely fashion and track student service by using the Engagement Zone platform. Assistance in both of these areas and other areas related to designing and implementing a service learning course is available with ES&L and CTE.

    Questions

    Have specific questions about the Service Learning Course Designation not listed here?

    Contact us at cte@utrgv.edu

  • Resources

    Ballard, Sh. M., & Elmore, B. (2009). A labor of love: Constructing a service-learning syllabus. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 9 (3), 70-76.

    Brownell, J. E., & Swaner, L. E.  (2010). Five high-impact practices: Research on learning outcomes, completion, and quality.  Association of American Colleges & Universities.

    Kuh, G. D.  (2008).  High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter.  Association of American Colleges & Universities. (High-Impact Educational Practices: A Brief Overview)