Service Learning Frequently Asked Questions

What is service learning?

Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Curriculum includes structured field-based “experiential learning” alongside community partners, which reinforces course learning outcomes.

What are the benefits of service learning?

Increase your understanding of the class topic. Gain hands-on experience; explore your values and beliefs; develop critical thinking and problem solving skills; Grow your understanding of diverse cultures and communities; learn more social issues and their root causes; Improve your ability to handle ambiguity and be open to change; become more flexible; Develop or enhance your skills, especially in the areas of communication, collaboration, and leadership.

How does service learning work at Southwest?

Each semester, faculty and instructors from numerous disciplines across campus elect to integrate service learning into their courses. Service-Learning and HIPI center work with course instructors as they identify learning objectives while simultaneously working to identify community-based organizations to identify their volunteer, community interests and needs and the educations opportunities they would offer for students. Courses and organization are subsequently matched to meet both the learning objectives of the instructor and the community-identified needs and learning opportunities of the organization. Service-Learning has the following components:

  • Students making and following through on a commitment to volunteer each week of the time allotted (generally 3-5 hour shifts, depending on their host organization’ expectations), and thoughtfully integrating their experiences with classroom work.
  • Community-based organizations provide a structured learning experience for the student.
  • Faculty members/instructors assisting the students in thoughtfully integrating their community experiences into course assignments and discussions.
  • The semester long opportunities culminated in a reflective paper or related project, demonstrating the student’s understanding of academic concepts as integrated with the community based experience.

Are background checks required for participating in service learning?

Many Service-Learning positions may require a background check per service organization. These organizations will notify you if background checks are required.