Marshall Unversity's Center for Teaching & Learning: Service Learning Program
Service Learning Program
Benefits of Service Learning

Q: What is the difference between service learning and volunteerism or internships?

A: Service learning is an academic form of civic engagement that is guided by a specific curriculum. The service is structured and consistent for the duration of the course and reflected on regularly. The relationship between the community organization and the faculty is a mutually beneficial partnership for the students and the organization. Both the students and the organization are gaining valuable recourses.

Volunteerism emphasizes the services provided to the organization. The benefits for the organization outweigh those of the students. In addition, the service is not structured around a curriculum and is usually inconsistent. Reflection does not occur regularly.

Internships emphasize the knowledge the student has already gained. The benefits for the students outweigh those of the organization. Although the work is usually based on a previously learned skill, the work is not structured around a current curriculum and requires significant time practicing the skill. Reflection does not occur regularly.

Q: How will I know it is a service learning course?

A: All service learning courses are indicated by an “SL” designation. This allows students to identify the courses with a service-learning component. In addition, the MUSLP lists new and archived service learning courses on our website and the Student Resource Center (2nd Floor of the Memorial Student Center) has a list of all upcoming service learning courses.

Q: Will I be prepared for the service learning experience?

A:It is required that each course includes at least 1 reading about or pertaining to service learning. The MUSLP GA is also available to discuss service learning with your class and to answer any questions your students may have.

Q: I woudl like to take a service learning course but I am concerned about the extra workload. Are service learning courses more work?

A:No, service learning is not more work; it is just a different kind of work. Some students may find service learning courses more taxing than traditional courses, but often times the rewards outweigh these concerns. The rewards can be personal and for the community at large, that benefits from your service. Service learning then often enhances your learning experience and what is taken from course material, as well as helping students feel more connected with their community and giving them valuable knowledge of service agencies. This can help with resume building and sometimes even employment. The Financial Aid office has more information about potential Community Service Work Study opportunities.