Service-Learning is a curricular-based educational experience in which students participate in and then reflect upon organized service activities that meet community identified needs. These activities are designed in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Service-Learning experiences:

  1. relate to course subject matter.
  2. provide a needed service to individuals, organizations, schools or other entities in the community.
  3. provide a method or methods for students to reflect about what they learned through the service experience and how these learnings relate to the subject of the course. Credit is earned for the learning and its relation to the course, not for the service alone.
  4. recognize the needs of the service recipients and provide an opportunity for recipients to be involved in the evaluation of the service.
  5. aim at the development of the civic education of the participants, even though they may also be focused on career or graduate school preparation.

Frequently students and faculty ask about the differences between service learning and other types of experiential education such as practicums and internships. While there is overlap, the primary course objectives differ:

Meets Community Need Provides Civic Education Reflection Paid Provides Career Preparation
Service-Learning yes, requisite yes, requisite yes, requisite no might, coincidental
Internship might, not requisite might, not requisite might, not requisite might be yes
Practicum might, not requisite might, not requisite might, not requisite no yes

Definition approved by the Southern Utah University Faculty Service and Learning Committee April 19, 2002; Gayle Garrett, chair; Jim Jensen; Steve Barney; also in attendance: Neal Cox; Pam Branin; not in attendance: John Peterson, Rebecca White.