For Faculty & Staff

Why Service Learning?

Service Learning (or Community Engaged Learning) courses at MU combine academic coursework with relevant and impactful service to the community. The goal of service learning is simple – what students learn in the classroom is applied in the community to create engaged and effective servers, and conversely, student activities in the community are integrated into the classroom to transform and enrich learning.

Our office designates courses as Service Learning (SL) to the Office of the University Registrar. Having your course designated as SL helps us tell Mizzou’s public value story as well as helps students by:

  • Engaging them in a high-impact practice that delivers personal, professional, and educational benefits
  • Helping them to meet requirements for the Minor in Leadership & Public Service
  • Earning them the Community Engaged Learning microcredential
  • Signaling community engagement to future employers via transcript designations

If your course is in line with the criteria below (or could be with some support) please Contact Us so we may assist in getting your course SL designation.

What Counts as Service Learning?

Courses with the Service Learning (SL) designation share the following attributes:

1. Academic component: Course includes readings and content that separate the experience from pure volunteerism or self-directed internships.

2. Community engagement: Course involves mutually beneficial partnerships between the faculty member/students and at least one community partner serving the public interest1:

  • For direct service2 SL courses: Students must spend a minimum of 8 hours per credit hour in direct service with the community partner. 
  • For indirect service3 or advocacy4 SL courses: Students must engage in a problem-based project that is cumulatively worth at least 30%of their final grade. Projects should be informed by community partners (virtual meetings are permissible) and result in deliverables that are shared with community partners.

3. Reflection: Courses schedule or assignments integrate opportunities (e.g., journals, discussions, presentations) for students to reflect on their service experiences and link them to at least one of the following:

  • course concepts
  • career readiness (i.e., NACE competencies)
  • positionality to populations served 

4. Evaluation: Student performance will be informed by community member assessment of student efforts or final deliverable.

5. Integrated Learning Outcomes: Course syllabus will include at least one of the SL at Mizzou Learning Objectives listed below.

SL at Mizzou Learning Objectives 

Demonstrate Understanding of Community Issues: Students will be able to identify issues and problems important to society, define their scope, and identify information needed to address them.*

Apply Academic Knowledge to Real-World Problems: Students will integrate theoretical concepts from their academic disciplines with practical experience, applying their knowledge to address community challenges and demonstrate understanding of costs, benefits, and/or consequences of proposed resolutions of issues and problems.*

Develop Cultural Competence: Through interactions with people from different backgrounds and cultures students will expand their understanding of the world by analyzing and reflecting on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion from multiple perspectives.**

Practice Effective Communication: Students will refine their communication skills by interacting with community members, organizations, and peers, demonstrating the ability to articulate ideas, listen actively, and engage in the healthy and positive exchange of ideas.*

Public Demonstration of Competence**: Students will present their work in a clear and concise manner to a diverse audience, respond to questions and feedback effectively to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, and revise and edit their presentations to improve clarity and accuracy.*

Cultivate Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills: Through hands-on experiences, students will develop critical thinking skills and opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world application.**

Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning**: Students will engage in reflective practices to assess their personal and professional development, recognizing the impact of service experiences on their values, attitudes, and skills.

Work collaboratively with others*: Students will work collaboratively with community partners, faculty and peers about substantive matters**, demonstrating the ability to contribute to a team, resolve conflicts, and leverage diverse strengths.

Demonstrate Ethical Engagement: Students will explore and apply ethical principles in their service activities, considering the implications of their actions on individuals and the community as they define the duties of responsible citizenship.*

Evaluate the Impact of Service: Students will assess the impact of their service activities on the community, considering both short-term and long-term effects, and exploring ways to enhance positive outcomes.

* University of Missouri Core Learning Objective

** American Association of Colleges and Universities High-Impact Practice Key Element

  1. Eligible community partners are generally government or non-profit entities, but can be businesses if purpose of the partnership is not simply revenue enhancement but instead serving a greater community purpose.
  2. Direct service is personal contact with the persons or environments targeted for improvement (e.g., serving at the food bank, cleaning the creek, tutoring students).
  3. Indirect service includes project-based and action research on behalf of a community partner (e.g., helping to prepare a grant, researching problems, fundraising strategies, helping with marketing or administration).
  4. Advocacy involves a significant amount of research and outreach and can include basic education and extend to influencing policy, with the SL distinction being community partners inform and benefit from the work.