Service Learning

What is Service Learning?

Service learning is a teaching method in which students, faculty, and staff form partnerships with community groups in order to meet needs identified by those community partners while engaging in critical reflection that fosters student learning.

What Are the Benefits of Service Learning?

Service learning is a rewarding teaching method that offers several benefits for students, the university, and the community:

  • Service learning enhances student learning through hands-on experience and critical reflection
  • Service learning encourages students to reflect on their own values, awakens in students the desire to make a positive change in the community, and develops the skills needed by students to work with and understand people of diverse backgrounds
  • Service learning strengthens Marymount University’s relationships with community partners in Arlington, the D.C. metro area, and around the world
  • Service learning is consistent with Marymount University’s mission as a Catholic, liberal arts institution guided by the traditions of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

Which Courses are Designated as Service Learning?

At Marymount University, certain courses receive a special designation as “Service Learning” (SL) courses. This designation provides students with information about the course before registering and enables the university to ensure that the course follows best practices for service learning. The criteria for the SL designation are as follows:

  1. Students engage in an experiential project
  2. The project is carried out in collaboration with a community partner
  3. The community partner has primary responsibility for defining the goals of the project
  4. The service project contributes toward the learning outcomes of the course
  5. The course includes at least two learning outcomes linked to service learning
  6. The course must include at least 20 hours, or 20 percent of out of class time, to the service project
  7. The course must include assignments involving critical reflection on the service project in light of course content
  8. Students should be assessed on their service learning experience

Marymount courses currently designated as SL courses include:

  • HPR 570 Evidence-Based Programs for Older Adults (Temporary Course)
  • NU 339 Global Service Learning in Nursing
  • TRS 351 Christian Ethics in the Contemporary World
  • TRS 353 Faith, Justice, and Public Life

Course that include service learning but that cannot meet all of the above criteria are also encouraged, but will not receive the SL designation.

How Do I Design a Service Learning Course?

Faculty are encouraged to re-design existing courses or develop new courses designated as Service Learning. The Faculty Coordinator of Service Learning is available to faculty to help design service learning courses, and will periodically offer workshops on how to design a service learning course, best practices for community partnerships, and how to design effective critical reflection assignments for service learning courses.

For a course to be designated as a service learning course, it must meet all of the criteria listed above. A more detailed list of the criteria and other forms can be found on Canvas (login required). The Faculty Coordinator of Service Learning and the Service Learning Task Force will make sure that the proposed course meets all of the criteria, and the proposed course must then be approved by the faculty member’s department and school, and then either the UCIC or Graduate Studies Committee, and finally the Faculty Council.