University of Southern Indiana


(Frequently Asked Questions) 


1. How will service-learning benefit my students?

  • Links course work to real life experiences
  • Increases tolerance for diversity
  • Promotes self-knowledge and awareness of community and social issues
  • Enhances interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Provides opportunities for civic engagement and working with diverse groups and environments
  • Enhances critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Promotes sense of belonging to the USI community


2. How does service-learning benefit faculty?

Faculty can benefit personally and professionally from integrating service-learning into their courses. Teaching with service-learning can:

  • Promote students’ active learning and engage students with different learning styles
  • Encourage more interactive teaching methods and reciprocal learning between students and faculty
  • Add new insights and dimensions to class discussions
  • Provide outlets for faculty professional expertise and opportunities for faculty research
  • Increase diversity in the classroom by accommodating a wide variety of learning styles
  • Foster relationships between faculty and community-based organizations that can open opportunities for additional collaborative work
  • Provide firsthand knowledge of community issues and opportunities to become more socially active
  • Lead to new avenues for research and publication
  • Provide networking opportunities with engaged faculty in other disciplines


3. How does service-learning compare to other community-based experiences?

Service-learning is distinct from other community-based experiences with respect to the beneficiary and the focus of the experience.  Both student and community partner benefit from the service-learning experience. The focus of a service-learning project is on

  • Providing a service to a community partner
  • Helping students integrate and apply course content to real-life situations
  • Providing students with opportunities to critically reflect on their experiences


4. Does service-learning work in introductory and lower-level courses?

Students at any level can have successful and rich service-learning experiences. The key is to develop service-learning experiences where students are given levels of responsibility that are appropriate to their skill levels. The USI Service-Learning Program can help you identify community opportunities that will enhance the learning experiences of your students.


5. How do I make sure service-learning is well integrated into my class?

Reflection assignments are the most effective way to integrate service-learning into your course. Reflection assignments help students make connections between their community work and the course content.

Also, when we have asked students at the end of each semester how service-learning could have been better integrated into their class, a common response is that more time could have been spent in class discussing students’ experiences in the community. Thus, we strongly encourage you to keep this in mind as you plan your course. Whether service-learning is required for all your students or an option that only some students pursue, think about the ways they could learn from each other through class discussions.


6. What information should I include in my syllabus about the service-learning project?

We suggest including a statement about service-learning and the importance of the reflective component of the project.

Example: Service learning aims to enhance academic learning by challenging students to apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations

Reflection is the intentional component that takes a service activity and makes it a service-learning project. This is achieved by tying a reflective assignment to service-learning outcomes (see Tool-kit for examples of reflection assignments).

In addition, it is recommended that you include in your syllabus

  • Community Partner Name
  • Project Name
  • Project Description
  • Location
  • Duration of Service-Learning Project
  • Service-Learning Outcomes Addressed
  • Description of Reflective Assignment(s)


(FAQ's 2, 4, 5, and 6 adapted from: FACULTY AND INSTRUCTORS’ GUIDE TO SERVICE-LEARNING;  Community Service-Learning Center; University of Minnesota, pp. 7-9)

Contact Dr. Monica O'Neil


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