Northeastern University: Center of Community Services

Course Experiential Criteria

The Rationale for Service-Learning (S-L) as Integrating Knowledge and Skills through Experience

  • To ensure the service and learning components of a course meet the recognized best practices outlined in the S-L Course Criteria I-V.
  • To ensure courses utilizing S-L are supporting the Mission of NU and applicable areas of the Academic Plan.
  • To provide a mechanism for tracking students’ participation and to have service-learning courses count toward the fulfilment of the NUpath experiential attribute.

The Process for Indicating S-L Classes as Experiential through NUpath

Submit syllabus and S-L related course material with necessary criteria incorporated into the document(s), to the Director of Service-Learning prior to the beginning of registration for the desired semester.  The timeline will allow for approval of the request for attribute and notation to be included in the NUpath Course Dashboard and Banner Course Registration System.

  • Faculty new to S-L can start by contacting the Director of Service-Learning for the S-L Course Development Form and schedule a meeting to discuss strategies for and best practices of incorporating S-L into a course and syllabus.
  • Course designation can be approved after the start of a semester; however designation may not appear in the course catalog for the semester in question.

Approval will be granted by the Service-Learning Advisory Board: 

  • for the specific course section of the faculty member submitting for the ‘Integrating Knowledge and Skills through Experience’/experiential attribute.
  • (If S-L is required for all sections of a course, but taught by different faculty, then each faculty member should submit his/her own syllabus and related material. This is unless the group of faculty are working from the same syllabus and related material through which the recognized criteria is incorporated into each section equally.)
  • only to courses for which S-L is required of all students.

S-L as counting toward the fulfillment of the NUpath experiential attribute must align with the criteria for Integrating Knowledge through Skills and Experience, which are that students will:

  • Apply knowledge and skills in new, authentic contexts
  • Gain new knowledge and develop new skills to successfully engage in unfamiliar tasks and activities
  • Integrate and use the deepened knowledge and skills as well as the newly gained knowledge and skills to continue to learn in their academic programs
  • Articulate how and what one learns across a range of contexts

Once a course/section receives approval:

  • It will appear with an “Experiential Learning” attribute in the Banner Course Registration System because service-learning is counted as a form of experiential learning.
  • It will appear as counting toward the experiential attribute on the NUpath Course Dashboard
  • It does not need to seek approval each semester thereafter as long as the syllabus does not reflect significant changes in how S-L will be utilized or required in the course.
  • If possible, the faculty member should also revise the course description to state that service-learning is the form of experiential learning being utilized in the course.

Service-Learning Course Criteria

Northeastern University employs a definition of service-learning and ‘best practices’ universally accepted by practitioners.

Service-Learning (S-L) is an academically rigorous educational experience in which students,

  1. participate in organized service activities/project(s) that meet needs identified by the community, and
  2. reflect on the service activities/project(s) in such a way as to gain further understanding of course/program content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

To that end, the following criteria must be present in an S-L course and related material at Northeastern.

  1. Purpose
  2. Preparation and Orientation Component
  3. Community Partnership and Service Component
  4. Reflection Component
  5. Assessment & Evaluation Component

Full details are available here