Academic Service-Learning

Service-learning is a powerful form of experiential education. The CCBLLR can assist faculty in the process of incorporating service-learning into a course curriculum by setting up community placements for students enrolled in your class, by tracking student placements, and providing faculty with field-specific, research-based advice on how to incorporate this powerful pedagogical practice into your course. If you are considering incorporating service-learning into a course you are teaching and would like assistance from the CCBLLR, contact Laurie Marks at lmarks@uwm.edu. The Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research is a drop-in center, so you can stop by anytime during normal business hours if you need any assistance or resources; however the faculty log-in, some forms, and other information are available below.

Service-Learning Resources for Faculty

  • Service-Learning Timeline (Word )
  • Service-Learning Special Placement Request Form (Word or PDF)
  • Service-Learning Course Form (Word or PDF)
  • Service-Learning Toolkit (Only those with a UWM Outlook account can access this resource with the link)

FAQs About Service-Learning and the Process at UWM

The Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research is available to answer your questions about service-learning and help you with all aspects of developing a service-learning course, including design, implementation, and evaluation. We will work with you to identify community placements that are relevant to your course, handle service-learning registration, and provide student follow-up throughout the semester. We can also offer you access to sample syllabi and current literature on service-learning issues, trends, and research.

This is an important and legitimate concern for all who are interested in quality higher education and it is the focus of much research on service-learning. If applied properly, this pedagogy can be more rigorous than traditional teaching strategies. Students are not only required to master the standard text and lecture material, but must also integrate their service experience into a context. This is a high level skill requiring effective reflection techniques designed to accomplish academic outcomes. It is important to emphasize that service-learning does not change what is taught, but how it is taught. With this change comes a new set of challenges for both the student and the teacher.

Like service-learning, fieldwork and internships are academically-based, but often require a much larger time commitment and may be geared to the development of very specific skills such as teaching, social work or nursing. Service-learning, on the other hand, does not focus on the acquisition of particular career skills, but rather helps students deepen their understanding of course content through experiences in the community and reflection in the classroom. Service-learning’s connection to academics and course goals, differentiates it from community volunteerism.

Service-learning is not an add-on to your current course requirements. Instead, a part of the traditional classroom content activity is replaced with action and meaningful involvement in experiential learning.

Most UWM faculty require 10-15 hours of service-learning in a given semester. Some give students the option of replacing service-learning with additional coursework.

Service-learning should not add hours to course requirements, since it often takes the place of more traditional activities like a discussion section or a paper done outside of class. Faculty report that most students are willing and able to do service-learning, while students say the workload in their service-learning courses is manageable.