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California State University, Los Angeles

Service Learning Definition   (Senate: 1/22/02; President: 2/26/02)

Consistent with the special mission at Cal State L.A. to provide an educational experience that recognizes and takes full advantage of diversity, while emphasizing the knowledge, experience, and ethical concerns common to all people, service learning at California State University, Los Angeles:

  • is a teaching and learning strategy that provides students with organized and meaningful learning experience outside the classroom design to enhance their understanding of information, knowledge and theoretical principles shared in the classroom;

  • is also defined as a pedagogical model that links course content with a community service component that is designed to address the needs identified by the community whether local or global; and

  • has, as an integral component, the use of reflective activities intended to integrate course content and skills and knowledge with community involvement and to develop or strengthen students’ commitment to social responsibility and civic engagement.

Criteria For Service-Learning Course Designation

All courses approved for a service learning designation must address the following criteria:

  1. The service experience must relate course content to clearly articulated course objectives and student learning outcomes, which helps to foster or strengthen the students’ awareness of social responsibility and sense of civic duty.

  2. The service learning option or requirement must link course content with a community service component that addresses a need identified by the participating community.

  3. Since knowledge from the course informs the service experiences with which the students are involved, service opportunities must be appropriate for the course.

  4. Service learning courses must provide a method to assess the learning derived from the service, and academic credit must be based on learning outcomes—not the service itself.

  5. Structured and organized opportunities for critical reflection of the learning gained through the service experience and how the service relates to the course content must be evident.

  6. Number of hours devoted to the service learning component must be specific and sufficient to provide meaningful service while also meeting course objectives and student learning outcomes.

  7. Opportunities must be available for community partners to provide input into the evaluation process of students’ community service and activities within their agencies.

    --Adapted from the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center at the University of Utah

Content Contact:
Judy Botelho
(562) 951-4749
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Last Updated: April 29, 2008