Service-Learning Course Designation

Service-Learning Course Designation

Deadline to submit: Fourth Friday of Fall or Spring Semesters

Submission Materials:

Definition of Service-Learning (SL)

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) defines Service-Learning as “field-based experiential learning with community partners is an instructional strategy—and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life.”

UCF defines service-learning as “a teaching method that uses community involvement to apply theories or skills being taught in a course. Service-Learning furthers the learning objectives of the academic course, addresses community needs, and requires students to reflect on their activity in order to gain an appreciation for the relationship between civics and academics.”

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that supports UCF’s commitment to harness the power of its scale to transform lives and livelihoods. It does this by integrating meaningful community service with instruction and reflection.

Service-learning is reciprocal and balances student learning with community needs. Faculty and community partners establish the learning objectives that address social and community needs. A service-learning course blends hands-on community involvement with course materials such as lectures, readings, discussions, and reflection activities.

Students who participate in service-learning acquire a deeper understanding of course content, develop a broader appreciation of the discipline, and gain enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Service-Learning three core elements:

  • EducationCourse content is directly connected to the service students are asked to complete. Specific education provides students with the historical, political, social, and cultural context of the social problems they will be working with during their service. Effective education provides faces and opinions from all perspectives on the issue, including ways that the participants’ personal life choices are connected to them.
  • ReflectionIntentional, systematic reflection of the experience must take place to thoughtfully connect the service-learning experience with the assigned curriculum. Reflection is what transforms experiences into learning. Service-Learning occurs in different stages: servicing to enabling to empowering; observation to experience to leadership.
  • ServiceService tasks need to be worthwhile and challenging to strengthen student’s critical thinking while fostering civic responsibility. The service and learning must be worthwhile for both the student and the community. There must be reciprocity between the server and those served. A priority is placed on involving a broad cross-section of students working in a diverse setting and with a diverse population within the community.

Although many courses include aspects of service-learning, to be designated an SL course, service-learning must be central rather than peripheral to the course content and structure.

Why have an SL Designation for your Course?

  • To enhance students learning by making learning objectives intentional, high impact, and connected to real-world and civic contexts.
  • To document service-learning experiences taking place in the university classroom.
  • To promote a standard of excellence for service-learning experiences in university courses.
  • To set student expectations for the rigor of an SL course.
  • To support UCF strategic plan to have all students complete a HIP.
  • To acknowledge, through its official university designation, the innovative work and accomplishments of students and faculty engaging in SL courses.
  • To allow students in your course to participate in the Amy Zeh Service-Learning Student Showcase.
  • To help students obtain the Service-Learning Certificate.


The basic criteria for designating an existing course as a service-learning (S-L) course at UCF are that it:

  • Addresses a need in the community (campus, local, regional, global)
  • Meets one or more course objectives
  • Demonstrates a clear connection between the service activity and the course content
  • Involves reciprocity between course and community that results in students’ increased civic awareness and engagement
  • Involves structured student reflection
  • Involves collaboration with an appropriate agency representative
  • Involves at least 15 hours of student service to the community agency
  • Is not a venue for promoting religious or political agendas nor is it to be used for recruitment of students, those served, or other residents of locations visited for religious or political efforts.

See full details on the Service-Learning Course Rubric

To be designated as a service-learning course, the service-learning activities must be with nonprofit organizations or governmental agencies, including public schools, the philanthropic arm of a for-profit organization, or other initiatives approved by the High Impact Practice Committee.

All students in the course must be required to engage in service-learning experiences. The experiences may not be simply co-op, internship, clinical, practicum and other activities designed to purely meet student learning needs. These experiences, while integral to the student’s learning, do not generally meet the service-learning requirements.

Procedure to Submit

  1. Submissions are accepted each semester, due by the fourth Friday of the start of classes, for course designation beginning the following semester.
  2. We highly recommend reaching out to an HIP course designation administrator to discuss your submission. They work as an advocate to help you with the submission process. Contact:
  3. Review the Service-Learning Course Rubric, making any necessary changes to your syllabus to meet these requirements. Note that to qualify a course must contain all the criteria.
  4. Complete the HIP Course Designation Formto demonstrate how your course meets the evaluation criteria for SL designation.
  5. Submissions will then undergo committee review, with approved course designations being implemented the following semester. Should a submission require any revisions, the faculty member will receive feedback and may submit again the same semester; courses requiring substantial revisions may choose to submit materials the following semester.

Designation Levels

The HIP Courses Designations (Integrative-Learning Experience, Research Intensive, Service-Learning, and Global Learning) can all be obtained at either the instructor or course level. Course sequences may also be considered for IE course designations; please contact to discuss options.

Instructor-Level Designation

This type of designation follows the instructor who has submitted their course section for designation. If there are multiple faculty members teaching this course, only the faculty member’s course with an instructor-level designation will have the Serivce-Learning Experience course attribute.

Course-Level Designation

Departments may submit courses to be designated at the course level. This means that all instructors for the course, whether there is one or multiple instructors, will teach the course in accordance with the Service-Learning Experience designation requirements.

Course-level designation means that all sections have common learning outcomes, final outcomes, and similar assessment practices that meet all required components of the SL Rubric.

If there are multiple instructors, but everyone uses the same syllabus, then only that syllabus needs to be submitted. If the content varies, sample syllabi must be submitted as one PDF.

Example: If a leadership course contains the same learning outcomes and end-of-term deliverable (e.g. digital story or poster presentation), but each instructor teaches those outcomes using a variety of strategies and formative assessments, sample syllabi are needed.

To request a course-level designation, select this option on your submission form, which will populate a Course-Level SL MOU to be routed to your department chair to sign.

Service-Learning Experience Syllabus Statement

(required for SL designated courses):

The following statement was created as a tool for faculty members to use when writing a syllabus for a service-learning course.  Inserting it, however, does not automatically create a service-learning syllabus. It should be modified to meet individual course content and objectives (bracketed sections in [bold] are areas that are typically adjusted to apply to individual course needs).

Service-Learning Statement:

This section of [ABC 1234] is a UCF sanctioned service-learning class.  Students will spend a minimum of fifteen hours over the course of the semester on a service-learning activity. This activity will address a need in our community, support our course objectives, involve a connection between the campus and the world around it, challenge students to be civically engaged, and involve structured student reflection.  We’ll spend time reflecting on our service-learning experience through [class conversations, WebCT discussions, and field journal entries].  While there is a15 hour minimum for service to pass the course, your service-learning efforts will be the core of much of the learning in the course. Therefore your “grade” for service-learning will come from the tangible class-related projects that come out of it rather than simply from completion of the hour minimum.

Our service-learning work in this [technical writing] course will involve [developing technical documents] for .  This will allow students to work with a real-world audience and will ensure that the significant time you put into your class project leads to meaningful results.  I’ll offer some suggestions for possible organizations groups of students may choose to work with and I’ll invite you to suggest other options.  I must approve all projects and each project will begin with a signed agreement among the students, the agency contact person, and me.  If any student has a valid objection to a proposed service-learning project or placement, he or she must let me know during the first week of class or before the drop/add deadline so we can discuss options.

For questions concerning Service-Learning, please contact Experiential Learning at


Can be found on this page:

Amy Zeh High Impact Practice Student Showcase

This showcase is for projects connected with HIP-designated courses only.

Held during the fall and spring semesters, the Amy Zeh HIP Student Showcase celebrates students who have completed projects as a part of their HIP-designated courses. Students can participate in person or online. More information about applying and submitting can be found on the Amy Zeh HIP Student Showcase page.


For questions or to schedule a one-on-one appointment to discuss your course and the SL application, email