Course Development

To begin organizing and constructing your service-learning course, consider the elements and basic principles of S-L:


  • Integrated Learning: the service and academic content inform each other.
  • High Quality Service: responds to needs recognized by the community; is appropriate to the level of the course, and well-organized.
  • Collaboration: all have an equal role in the planning, execution, and benefits of the partnership.
  • Civic responsibility: the experience promotes students' responsibility and understanding of how to care for others and contribute to our community.
  • Reflection: occurs before, during, and after the project, and establishes connections between the service experiences and academic curriculum.
  • Assessment & Evaluation: all parties are involved in assessing the partnership, and systems are in place to evaluate how effectively students have met the learning and service goals.

Youth Service California, 2000


  • Engagement: Does the service meet a real community need? Has that been defined by our local community? How?
  • Reflection: Do you have mechanisms built throughout the semester to support students in making connections between the course content and service experiences?
  • Reciprocity: Is the partnership going to provide for mutually beneficial outcomes for students and the community partners? Do both serve as teacher and learner equally?
  • Public Dissemination: Is the outcome of the service activity/project presented to the organization for current and future use? How?

Heffernan, p.1

We also suggest exploring pieces of our Best Practices for faculty to examine how you can put these elements and principles into practice.