Frequently Asked Questions

What is service-learning?

Service-learning is a "credit-bearing, educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and 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 and Hatcher

Why is there a hypen in service-learning?

The hyphen emphasizes the reciprocal nature of service-learning. Both the community and the students benefit. The hyphen also represents reflection, which is the bridge between service and learning.

My students do service in my class. Is it service-learning?

Maybe. But, similar to CxC, classes must be approved by CCELL before they can be called service-learning.

CCELL is happy to discuss with you whether your class meets the requirements for service-learning. We can also assist you in course design and the incorporation of best practices.  

How is service-learning different from community service and internships?

The primary beneficiary of community service is the recipient of the service; the primary beneficiary of an internship is most often the student, who gets hands-on experience. In service-learning, both student and community benefit; a student learns in a hands-on model while providing a service that benefits the common good.

What is the advantage of taking (or teaching) a service-learning course?

Studies indicate that students forget half of what they learn passively, but they remember 90% when they DO the "real thing." An Astin HERI study indicates that service participation shows significant positive effects on all its outcome measurements, including: GPA, writing skills, critical thinking, values, self-efficacy, and leadership. Service-learning aligns with Goal 4 of the LSU Flagship Agenda 2020, to “promote engagement of faculty, staff, and students in the transformation of communities.” Number of service-learning classes is a performance indicator, but only classes designated by CCELL can be included.

Is assistance available for faculty who choose to include service-learning activities in their classes?

Yes, CCELL can assist with everything from restructuring syllabi to selecting community partners. E-mail us at or contact us by phone at 578-4245. This website also offers many helpful resources, especially under the Course Design page

How do I designate my LSU class as service-learning?


To apply for your course to be designated as a S-L course, submit the following to the CCELL Office:

  • Completed Service-Learning Course Designation Application (see instructions before submitting)
  • Course syllabus containing the following:
    • Statement clearly identifying the class as service-learning. Provide link to for more info. 
    • Explanation of the types of S-L experiences used to meet course objectives
    • How students will make contact with the community partners and estimated number of hours that students will serve in the community
    • Description of the reflection component used to connect the service experience and course goals
    • Explanation of or link to LSU student trip insurance policy  

The LSU Community Engagement Advisory Council and CCELL implemented this process effective Fall 2012. Faculty with previously designated S-L classes must reapply using the new process; however, this review will be conducted in stages and established faculty do not need to reapply for designation until contacted by CCELL.

How are community service sites selected?

CCELL collects information on community requests for assistance. Faculty members ask CCELL staff to provide possible sites where service goals match course learning goals. Faculty members then consult with agencies and community organizations to select sites that provide the most appropriate match. Safety, supervision, orientation, and evaluation are important considerations for both faculty and community partners.

What kinds of service can students do?

The nature of the service varies with the discipline….from grant writing and tutoring in composition classes to designing and building playgrounds and special wheelchairs in engineering classes. The service may be in the form of a project such as a marketing plan for a non-profit in a business class or weekly mentoring at an agency or school. In all cases, the service is directly connected to course learning goals and is designed to enhance learning by testing theory or developing skills.

How are students graded in a service-learning class?

It depends on the class and the instructor, but generally the amount of service is not the important part. Academic credit is awarded for the learning that comes from the experience. The learning may be measured by projects, papers, presentations, journals, or other methods, and the course is structured so that students do different work, not more work.

How can students find out which classes offer service-learning?

Call CCELL at 578-4245 or click Service-Learning Courses.