What is Service Learning?

"Service learning is an innovative pedagogy (educational approach) that empowers students to learn through active participation in meaningful and planned community service experiences that are directly related to course content. Through reflective activities, students enhance their understanding of course content, sense of social responsibility, general knowledge, self-awareness, and commitment to the community.

[Service learning as pedagogy] decenters the authority of knowledge in the classroom and intentionally places the community in the center of the learning process."

John Saltmarsh and Kerri Heffernan, Integrating Service with Academic Study, Campus Compact

Quick Links:

The quick links below are to help with starting service learning project or request a new service learning site.

Student Learning Objectives for Service Learning

The Service Learning program goals are framed through the lens of student learning, and the faculty have developed specific student learning objectives to accompany these important service learning program goals. Students participating in service learning are expected to achieve the following student learning outcomes:  

  • Apply discipline‐specific and/or interdisciplinary knowledge and critical thinking skills to community issues. (Program Goals 1,2)
  • Demonstrate critical self‐reflection of oneʹs own assumptions and values as applied to community issues.  (Program Goals 2,3,4)
  • Demonstrate knowledge and sensitivity to issues of culture, diversity, and social justice as applied to community engagement. (Program Goals 2,3,4)

The Office of Service Learning also supports faculty community-based curriculum and research through the annual Instructional Support Mini-Grant Program. Grants up to $1,000.00 are awarded to full-time faculty and full-time lecturers that support efforts to enhance instruction and promote innovative teaching and learning strategies around service learning and community-based coursework.

Please contact Julie Fox at jfox@csustan.edu for more information about this program.

Working in accord with Stanislaus State's Mission Statement, service learning seeks to "promote academic excellence in the teaching and scholarly activities of our faculty, encourage personalized student learning, foster interactions and partnerships with our surrounding communities, and provide opportunities for the intellectual, cultural, and artistic enrichment of the region." Service Learning is recognized as a High Impact Practice to deepen faculty and student awareness of the responsibility we all share to improve the quality of life in our communities. The Office of Service Learning and Academic Internships facilitates and supports these connections that benefit our students, our faculty and our community.

The benefits of service learning are equally shared among the community, the student, the faculty, and the university. When the stage is set for a high-impact service learning experience, the performance will result in any number of academic, professional, social, political, or individual enhancements.

Faculty Students Community University
Identifying areas for research and publication related to current issue. Opportunities to provide valuable services to the community. Assistance in carrying out solutions to community needs. Faculty and student engagement in meeting community needs.
Connecting meaningful service to current issues as they relate to academic areas of interest. Real-life experience to enrich and apply classroom knowledge. Accessing affordable professional development. Positive relationships with community and agencies.
Engaging students with a teaching method that departs from the lecture-driven classroom. Skills development and career exploration. Contributing to the educational process. Better prepared and qualified university graduates ready for the workforce.
Providing increased student contact while contributing to student development. Civic development and cultural literacy. Building a positive relationship with the university. Extended knowledge of and resources for the university.
Connecting academic discipline to social issues and problems. Fostering a sense of social responsibility, which improves citizenship. Gaining access to the university's resources. Diverse research, enhanced teaching, and outreach to the community.
  Opportunities that accommodate different learning styles. Involving future students in university life. Extended knowledge of and resources for the university.

Academic research and practice relating to Community-based Education provide many opportunities to publish academic articles or books.

Click on the following links to connect with colleagues engaged in service learning practice and research and to learn what other service learning organizations are doing on the state, regional, and national levels:

Some links may require membership subscriptions for accessibility. These links may be accessible if connected to the university server.

  • Incorporating service learning into your curriculum is an effective teaching strategy that increases faculty-student interaction while contributing to student social, intellectual, and professional development.
  • As a High Impact Practice pedagogy, service learning can be an important component to deepen student learning and participation more fully in their disciplines through off-campus activities in addition to the traditional, lecture-driven curriculum.
  • It requires active student participation in developing learning objectives and interacting in our society in a way that challenges their assumptions and strengthens critical thinking.

Service learning represents an opportunity for an engaged scholarship for students and faculty. Engaged scholarship connects the knowledge of the University with the knowledge in our communities to address public issues that include artistic, social, cultural, scientific and economic development. Through this engaged form of teaching and research, faculty become leaders in their contributions to the core mission of the University.

CSU's Essential Community Engagement Fall 2020 Webinar: Critical Reflection (Oct 30, 2020) 

Chancellor's Office Common Attributes Initiative for Service Learning Courses (June 23, 2020)

Recently, the Chancellor's Office implemented a system-wide common set of attributes used in CMS to tag courses that offer either "Service Learning (SL)" or "Curricular Community Engaged Learning (CCEL)". These tags are used to load courses into the StanServes S4 site with the intention to effectively identify and track SL or CCEL courses uniformly across the CSU. The following links below provide detailed information about the new attributes, as well as the form that faculty complete to assign the appropriate attribute to their course. 

Creating Virtual and Remote Service-Learning Experiences: A 3-Part Series

View the Resource Overview about putting Service Learning Online

Community Connections Listserv
To subscribe to listserv, send message to: majordomo@lists.servenet.org containing in the body of message: Subscribe Community Connections and Your Email Address (remove any appended signatures and leave subject line blank)

 Points of Light Foundation Community-Based Organization Service-Learning Listserv
To subscribe to listserv, send message to: listserv@listserv.pointsoflight.org containing in the body of message: Subscribe CBOSL, City, State, and First Name Last Name

 U.S. Department of Education's EDInfo Listserv
To subscribe to listserv, send message to: listproc@inet.ed.gov containing in the body of message: Subscribe EDInfo and First Name Last Name (remove any appended signatures and leave subject line blank)

Confronting Anti-Black Racism on College Campus: 2-day Professional Development Training for Educators – August 12 & 13.
Learn more at Anti-black-racism-training

Facebook Group for Community Service & Service Learning Professionals in Higher Education
Great for Networking with Service Learning faculty, staff, and others across the USA. View The Facebook Group

Turlock Community Collaborative Directory - A Non-Profit Service Agency Resource Guide

While we may be teaching and studying from home, many of our local community service non-profits, public service agencies, and businesses continue to provide needed services in our communities. There are opportunities for you to help members of the Collaborative virtually/remotely! We are making available this valuable local resource guide so that you can still make a difference throughout Stanislaus County.

Please visit the Turlock Community Collaborative Directory to open a pdf copy of the directory.  Also, note that agency personnel may change at any time; however, you can always utilize the general contact information.

Updated: June 15, 2023