What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is a pedagogical approach which includes experiential learning via meaningful community service paired with classroom instruction and reflection. It is meant to enrich the academic learning experience for the students, teach civic responsibility, and help the local community with identified needs.

Service-learning is different from volunteer and co-curricular activities in the following ways:

  • Service-learning is an integral part of the course
  • Service activities are directly related to curriculum goals
  • Reflection is an integral component
  • The learning component intentionally fosters a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the community

Service-Learning Standards are identified as:

  1. Effective service-learning efforts strengthen service and academic learning.
  2. Model service-learning provides concrete opportunities for youth to learn new skills, to think critically and to test new roles in an environment which encourages risk-taking and rewards competence.
  3. Preparation and reflection are essential elements in service-learning.
  4. Students' efforts are recognized by their peers and the community they serve.
  5. Students are involved in the planning.
  6. The service students perform makes a meaningful contribution to the community.
  7. Effective service-learning integrates systematic formative and summative evaluation.
  8. Service-learning connects school and its community in new and positive ways.
  9. Service-learning is understood and supported as an integral element in the life of a school and its community. Skilled adult guidance and supervision are essential to the success of service-learning.
  10. Pre-service and staff development which includes the philosophy and methodology of service-learning best ensure that program quality and continuity are maintained.

(ASLER Standards for School-Based Service-Learning)

Service-Learning Designation

The SL Designation is not a permanent designation. It is done on a semester basis. No change to the course description is needed, and you can experiment with SL but you are not committing to anything if you simply try it during a particular semester.


Professors can submit their courses for SL Designation to CSRC during the month of February (for fall semester) or during September (for spring semester).

Registrar need our finalization for SL Designated courses

  • Summer Session - February 1st
  • Fall Semester - March 10th
  • Spring Semester - October 1st

Faculty who are teaching a course with a service-learning component and want the SL designation for their course should follow this process:

  1. Fill out this form for undergraduate courses (fillable form if you open in Adobe Acrobat). For repeated SL courses fill out this form.
  2. Fill out this form for graduate courses.
  3. Read through the

    A. The instructor will:
    1. Submit the course syllabus with a detailed description of the SL component and the Cover Form found on the website and send to the Executive Director at the CSRC
    a. These materials must be submitted to the CSRC by the end of February for a fall semester course, and by the end of September for a spring semester course
    2. Meet with the Executive Director if needed

    B. The Executive Director at CSRC will review the materials provided by the instructor and determine if the course meets the SL attribute designation parameters detailed in the “Service-Learning Attribute Designation” document

    C. Following approval by the Executive Director at the CSRC the course will be reviewed by the Curriculum Committee. Once approved, the course will be submitted to the registrar for the SL designation. Courses so designated will be show an “SL” with a short description on the digital registration schedule for the appropriate semester.

    D. If not approved, the Executive Director will meet with the instructor to discuss modifications of the SL component

    E. Listing of SL courses will be available on the CSRC website.

  4. Send a copy of the syllabus along with the form in #1 to Linda Drake at CSRC (email or mail)

*If your course has an optional only SL assignment, you should still follow the parameters, but cannot receive the SL designation.

Please contact Linda Drake, Executive Director of CSRC, with questions at 607-436-2633.

*The Academic Service-Learning Faculty Handbook, written by Wendy Lascell, Geography Department is also available

Service-Learning Program Options For Faculty Members

Look at the document above, for the parameters required for a SL course. This applies to courses with a required or optional SL components.

Service opportunities are arranged in coordination with the CSRC. The CSRC already has established community partners but if there is another community partner you have in mind, the CSRC is happy to work with you on establishing an effective and collaborative relationship.

Things to consider when developing a SL component:

  1. How will the service experience connect with and enhance the curriculum objectives?
  2. Will the SL project be required or optional?
  3. What type of reflection will be required - presentation, reflection papers, reflection journal?
  4. How many hours and activities will be required for each student?
  5. Will you meet with the community partner ahead of time to discuss the SL objectives?
  6. How will your service activity fulfill a community need?
  7. How hours will be recorded (starting with timesheets)
  8. Who will be supervising the students' on-site experiences?
  9. Will the community partner play a role in evaluating the service?
  10. Will the community partner receive any tangible products as a result of a placement?

CSRC Forms

The Forms below are saved in both Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader you can download it here. Volunteer hours are counted for fundraising and tabling.

CSRC Timesheets How to

  • Log into Campus Connect 
  • In the top right corner next to the nine square click on the circle 
  • select "Service Hours" then "Add Service Hours"
  • Join CSRC if not already a member and click the organization
  • Make sure to create a detailed (location, date name, and tasks) accurate description and fill in the boxes 
  • Submit
  • The CSRC will either approve or deny hours based on description

Course Forms:

  1. Service-Learning Designation for courses
  2. Service Learning Designation Approval for Graduate Courses
  3. SL Designation Process and Parameters

Please contact Linda Drake with questions at 607-436-2633

Related Research

Service-Learning Toolkit published by University Faculty Senate, SUNY

Academic Service-Learning Faculty Handbook for SUNY Oneonta Faculty 

Journal of Service-Learning in Higher Education provides free access to their articles

Selected References

Campus Compact

Service-Learning Clearinghouse

Guidelines for Students 
(provided by Lisa Curch, Sociology)

Example of Brainstorming Ideas Generated for a Political Science Professor. 
(We can do this for ANY discipline)

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