Loyola University Maryland

Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ)

Service-Learning FAQs for Faculty

image divider

What is service-learning?

Service-learning is a pedagogy that combines academic study and community service in ways that enhance students' learning. Students generally do 20 hours of service at a community agency throughout the semester as part of the homework for the course. Learning occurs through an array of structured reflection assignments and activities that help students connect their service experiences with the central ideas, theories and methods they are studying. Service-learning is an exciting form of experiential education that benefits all parties involved: faculty, student, college and community.

How do we define service-learning at Loyola University?

Please see page one of our service-learning document to read the definition.

What resources are available to me?

In addition to the resources included in this website, faculty are welcome to:

  • Contact Robin Crews (director) at rcrews@loyola.edu
  • Visit the office of service-learning, which is located in the Center for Community Service and Justice
  • Make use of our Service-Learning Library (in the office of service-learning)
  • Browse and borrow AAHE's 19-volume monograph series on Service-Learning in the Disciplines or the refereed service-learning journal, Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (copies of both series are located in the Service-Learning Library, Sellinger Hall, and the Loyola Library)
  • Call or email any member of Loyola's Committee on Engaged Scholarship, a faculty advisory committee that also includes student, administration, and community partner representatives.

How can I learn more about service-learning pedagogy?

Faculty interested in learning how to integrate service-learning into their courses can participate in a Faculty Fellows Seminar, which touches upon everything from learning theories at the core of the pedagogy, to models and course syllabi in your discipline, to basic logistical details—all in a friendly, interdisciplinary atmosphere. Course Development Grants are available for those who wish to work individually with the service-learning staff.

Can any course be a service-learning course?

Ideally, service-learning pedagogy can be used in any course, even though the "fit" may seem more obvious for some courses than for others. In all cases, it is important to consider the learning objectives of the course to determine whether service-learning is an appropriate pedagogy.

Does offering a service activity for extra credit count as service-learning?

No. Contrary to popular myth, service-learning courses are not simply traditional courses with a service component attached to them. In a service-learning course, the service is part of the homework the students complete to learn about the content of the course. Effective service-learning occurs when the service is directly linked to specific learning outcomes of a course and both the service and the learning are fully integrated into the course.

Are there criteria for service-learning courses at Loyola?

Yes. See page two of our service-learning document to view the criteria.

What is the purpose of these criteria?

At present, these criteria serve as a guide to help faculty, students and community partners achieve the highest possible benefit from service-learning. In the future, they may be used to help students and faculty identify service-learning courses each semester.

Where do I start?

There are several ways to start. In addition to browsing through the many resources available in this website, you can contact Robin Crews, director of service-learning at ext. 2112 or rcrews@loyola.edu and have an initial conversation about your interest in service-learning. You can also use the Faculty Planning Guide (Word doc).

How do I find community partners?

If you do not already have relationships with community partners, the office of service-learning staff can help you make connections. We will work with you to determine the kinds of service (e.g. tutoring, accompanying the elderly, etc.) in which you want your students to be engaged and which community agencies might be the best fit. Although we encourage faculty to develop their own relationships with community partners, we are happy to provide assistance in any way possible. Additional optiions for finding community partners include:

  • See the latest CCSJ Community Service Handbook to learn about the Center's long-established community partners
  • Visit the website idealist.org and search their databases (see "Advanced Searches: Organizations" on the right-hand side of their main Web page; then select "United States," "Maryland," and "Baltimore" in the "Find Organizations" search box) for non-profits and other organizations in the Baltimore area that may be relevant to your courses and/or discipline.

How will my students get to their service sites?

Some Loyola students have their own cars and are willing to use them to get to their service sites. However, for students without cars, Loyola has a fleet of cars and minivans that students may use for this purpose. To use a Loyola vehicle, students must fill out a form to get authorized and then reserve the vehicle for the days they need it. Often it can be worked out that students go to a site together (this could be with other students in the course or students who are going to the same agency to volunteer).  

How many hours of service should my students do?

Generally, students do 20 hours of service throughout the semester. Given that it takes a few weeks for arrangements to be made in the beginning of the semester, this means that students should plan to do 2 hours a week for 10 weeks.

Do I have to require all of my students to do service for my course?

No. Service-learning can be optional or mandatory in any course, and it is up to the professor to make this decision.

How can I give academic credit for service?

It is a common misunderstanding that credit is given for the service in service-learning. Service is part of the homework: like reading articles or watching films, it is one of the ways students learn course material. Credit is given for the learning that results from the service, not for the service itself.

How much extra time is required of me?

As with any pedagogy or technology that enhances the way you teach, there is a learning curve, so you will want to allow some extra time when preparing for and teaching a service-learning course for the first time. In subsequent semesters, teaching your service-learning course should become second nature for you. And, as you will discover, the many benefits to all involved more than compensate for any extra time or effort you contribute to your course.