For Faculty interested in offering Service-Learning

Service-Learning Defined

Service-Learning Defined Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, enhance civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

There are two ways Service-Learning courses may be offered at the University of North Alabama: 1) the course numbers of 199 and 399 in each department and 2) departmental courses with a service-learning component.

Criteria for All Service-Learning Courses

To qualify as service-learning at UNA, a community based service-learning experience must meet the following criteria:

  • Service-learning must focus primarily on meeting the inadequately addressed needs of individuals, groups, or communities and not serve as a means for students to gain vocational skills or career related experience.
  • The service-learning course must include conscious reflection of the service that that is formally presented to the instructor and other interested parties.
  • The service learning course must include a minimum of 10 hours of active, structured service learning, not to include reflection activities.
  • The service learning course must include a documented agreement agreed upon by the student, instructor, and service agency supervisor outlining the student’s responsibilities and expected benefits.
  • Service-learning courses offered for academic credit must include the following on the course syllabus: a) explanation of how the service experiences will satisfy and/or enhance anticipated learning outcomes, b) minimum of service-learning hours, c) procedures for documenting service-learning hours, and d) final impact of service-learning experience on student’s course grade.
  • All service-learning experiences associated with for-credit courses must be registered with the Service-Learning Advisory Committee. This committee, which reports to the VPAA, will serve as the official UNA site for collection of information on academic related service-learning experiences at the university.

Criteria for Service-Learning Departmental Course Designation

  • The service-learning component of the course (or section), as described in the syllabus, must reflect the University of North Alabama’s definition of service-learning.
  • The syllabus must show direct and deliberate connections between the service and the course content and must explain how these connections will support or enhance student learning.
  • The community agency or service site must be appropriate to the course goals, and service-learning placements must not create a religious, political, and/or moral conflict for the student. (A list of recommended or selected sites should be included in the syllabus or attached to the application.)
  • Students must complete at least a minimum of 10 hours of service-learning.
  • The service-learning component must count for no less than 20 percent of the total course grade.
  • The reflection (learning assessment) method or activity must be specified in the syllabus.
  • Students will earn academic credit for learning that is demonstrated and assessed (rather than for the service itself).

Examples of Service Learning

  • Visiting local school systems and offering tutoring to students in specific subjects
  • Educating the community about a global issue by identifying a target audience and designing a variety of communication strategies to raise awareness and change behavior including the creation of a website regarding the issue
  • Students looking for ways to support struggling local non-profit organizations during difficult economic times by providing a wide variety of public relations including developing press kits and managing event coordination

There are other types of community based service involvement experiences that may be considered similar to, but differ both operationally and philosophically from, service-learning. It is important to note some vital distinctions between service-learning and these other forms of community based service involvement to arrive at a clearer understanding of service-learning. Examples of such community based service involvement experiences are provided below. Volunteerism, where the primary emphasis is on the service being provided and the primary intended beneficiary is clearly the service recipient. Community Service, where the primary emphasis is on the service being provided, as well as the benefits the service activities have on the recipients. Internships/clinical experiences/practicum experiences that engage students in service activities primarily for the purpose of providing students with hands-on experiences that enhance their learning or understanding of issues relevant to a particular area of study.

Activities That Do not Constitute Service-Learning

In order to ensure the academic integrity of the service-learning experiences within the mission of the University of North Alabama, students, faculty, and staff may not engage in certain activities while representing the university. The activities that do not constitute service learning include the following:

  • Student teaching
  • Clinical experience in the health professions
  • Student internships and cooperative education assignments
  • Fraternity and sorority service projects
  • Work done primarily to benefit UNA student organizations
  • Religious evangelism including engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, or engaging in any form of proselytizing
  • Military service
  • Work done on behalf of political parties/candidates
  • Work done primarily to create new business or increase the profitability of existing businesses, except where there are significant benefits for community development
  • Activities in which the sole or primary task is fund raising for non-profit organizations
  • Aiding or engaging in partisan political activities
  • Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes
  • Activities that pose a significant safety risk to participants
  • Assignments that displace employees


At the completion of the course service-learning experience, an assessment will be used to solicit the impact of service- learning on all stakeholders: students, faculty, staff, and community partners.