Building Your Course

Characteristics of a Service Learning Course

1 – Collaborative partnerships involve:

  • Need identification
  • Project development
  • Engagement in project
  • Evaluation of partnership and project and sharing results with community partners
  • Willingness to share results

2 – Integration of course content (goals and objectives) to community-focused projects

3 – Ongoing critical reflection/analysis

4 – Application of knowledge to relevant social justice issues


Critical Reflection

Faculty-led reflection is critical to ensure course goals and objectives are met.

Here are some ways to incorporate it into the classroom:

  • Journal writing
  • Ethnographies, or field notes
  • Case-study papers
  • Multimedia class presentations
  • Presentations to community organizations
  • Invite community speakers to class
  • Group discussion
  • Community events
  • Videos
  • Students write letters to the editor
  • Students create a visual map of their experience
  • Creative projects – songs, poems, making a collage


Forming a Community Partnership

As a land grant and sea grant public university, UConn is committed to the betterment of communities in the State of Connecticut and beyond. This mandate is a critical component of service learning.

Questions to ask in assessing a potential partner relationship:

  • What are my interests regarding the community?
  • How does my course content align with these?
  • What organizations do I have existing relationships with, and do they align with the interests and goals/objectives of my course?
  • Is this partner a good fit for the skills we offer and want to learn?


Faculty may seek assistance from the director of the Office of Service Learning in selecting and facilitating a partnership.


Syllabus Tips

  • Indicate service learning clearly as part of the learning objectives. Provide a rationale about why service learning is important for the course and how the learning goals and objectives are connected.
  • Describe clearly how service learning will be measured, and what will be measured.
  • Describe the nature of the service aspect of the course.  Are students free to choose their own placements or will the faculty establish projects?
  • Specify the roles and responsibilities of students in the community project (i.e., transportation, time commitment, schedule, contacts, etc.)
  • Define the goals and expectations of the project for students clearly
  • Provide clear links between the course content, the service activity, and student success.
  • Describe the critical reflection process. Whether journaling, discussing, writing papers, creating portfolios, or making presentations, students should be aware of how they will demonstrate their learning.
  • Describe expectations for the public dissemination of student work.



Sustainability is a critical aspect of service learning for faculty, the community partner, students, communities at large, and the university.  The goals should be to foster relationships with community partners while involving your department as well.   Think if there are others in your department who might also benefit from the relationship.  If interest and “buy in” are spread across the department, there is an increased chance of sustainability.

When planning a service learning course, set out to maintain ongoing communication and interaction with community partner(s).  Be intentional about these relationships as they relate to your course, and work to grow and develop with the organization(s).  Ask the community partner about their needs while also indicating the ability of your students.  The service-learning portion of the course can start small and evolve as the relationship with the partner also evolves over time (semester after semester).


Service Learning Course Designation

It is of utmost importance for the University to have an accurate count of our service-learning offerings. In accordance with the Academic Vision, service learning supports the University in its mission and vision through this innovative pedagogy.

Courses using service-learning pedagogy are designated and searchable in the PeopleSoft system. We ask all faculty who use service learning to complete an SL application in order to get your course designated. Having courses designated “SL” will allow the University and the Office of Service Learning to have accurate information for reporting and quality control. It will also provide students necessary information about their coursework.

* Please note that once your course is designated as SL, it will continue to be designated. If the course number is no longer associated with service learning, please email


Important Deadlines

One month prior to course registration of any particular semester, and specifically:

For Fall 2019 Designation: Mon., February 25, 2019

Courses will also be reviewed on a rolling basis and can be designated retroactively for data collection and analysis purposes.

Please see the Office of the Registrar for calendar updates.


Fill Out the SL Designation Application