Service-Learning FAQ's

What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning is a “course-based, credit-bearing educational experience that allows students to (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity 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” (Bringle & Hatcher, 1995, p. 112).

Bringle, R., & Hatcher, J. (1995). A service learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 2, 112-122.

What are the key characteristics of Service-Learning?

• Service-learning involves students in community service activities and integrates the experience with academic objective, striving for a balance between academic goals and service outcomes.

• Service-learning differs from internship experience or volunteer work in its equal benefit to the recipient and the provider of service and in its equal focus on serving and learning.

• Service-learning objectives are linked to real community needs that are identified by community partners and service recipients.

• Service learning integrates academic knowledge and real-world experience: course materials inform student service and service informs academic dialogue and comprehension.

• Service-learning is typically approached in a three-part process: 1. classroom preparation through teaching of theories and ideas; 2. service activity that emerges from and informs classroom context; and 3. structured reflection tying service experience back to specific learning goals.

• Service-learning has the potential to impact students’ development in the following areas: academic, personal, professional, and civic.

How is Service-Learning different from internships and other field experiences?

It is important to distinguish service-learning from other types of experiential education, service-learning, including internships, field education, practica, and voluntary service. Furco (1996) places these forms of education on a continuum. At one end of the continuum are internships and practica, with their primary focus on the students’ career development. At the other end are volunteer activities, in which the emphasis is on the civic involvement and the services provided to recipients. Furco locates service-learning in the middle of the continuum, and states that it is unique in its "intention to equally benefit the provider and the recipient of the service as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring" (1996, p. 5). In addition to the benefits to the recipient, service-learning has the potential to enhance students’ professional development and civic engagement. [Furco, A. (1996). Service-learning: A balanced approach to experiential education. In Corporation for National Service (Ed.), Expanding Boundaries: Serving and Learning (pp. 2-6). Columbia, MD: Cooperative Education Association.]

How do students receive academic credit for Service-Learning at Fredonia?

• Embedded service-learning assignments: A service-learning project related to the course objectives may be embedded in the requirements of a 3-credit course, typically taking the place of a more traditional assignment.

4th-credit option: Instructors may offer students the option to take a 4th credit that involves a service commitment integrated with the academic objectives of the course. Please plan to submit a contract within the first two weeks of the semester in which the 4th credit is offered.

How can faculty add a "4th credit" service-learning option to a course?

1. Check out the list of FACE community partners and potential projects. To work with a community partner not currently listed with FACE, consult the Service-Learning Coordinator to initiate a new partnership.

2. Request a new course offering with the Office of the Registrar. The course numbers are INDS 199, 299, 399, 499, 599, & 699 (choose the level that corresponds with your main course). The course offering must be approved by the Service-Learning Coordinator.

4. Explain the 4th credit option in the syllabus of the main course, and describe the option to students in the first week of classes.

5. Oversee the completion of the service-learning contract, which should be emailed to the Service-Learning Coordinator within the first 2 weeks of the semester.



How can a community organization or agency become a partner for service-learning projects at Fredonia?


Please contact one of the FACE Center Coordinators for information about becoming a Service-Learning partner.

Fredonia Academic Community Engagement Center

701 Maytum Hall
State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3758
(716) 673-4973 fax