Course Criteria

Criteria for Service-Learning Courses

Service-Learning courses include the following:

  • Learning experiences integrated into the course that engage students outside the classroom such as in a community organization and advances learning goals and community purposes;
  • Reciprocal relationships among students, faculty, community members and community organizations that build capacity among all partners; and
  • Critical reflection of the experiences through various assignments in class that lead to a synthesis of the experience through a final project or portfolio.

Service-Learning Models

Service-learning offers different structural models for faculty and their students to pursue academic, vocational, social, and civic learning outcomes.  Academic service-learning experiences can be structured in several ways. 

At Loyola, faculty tend to use one of three models:


Placement-based service-learning courses require students to volunteer for a minimum of 20 hours with a community organization or project.  Students may either find a non-profit partner organization with whom to volunteer or faculty can identify a smaller group of organizations where students can volunteer.  Placement-based experiences enhance students' understanding of course content by asking them to volunteer directly in the community at an organization whose mission aligns with the course's academic outcomes.  For example, students in an environmental studies class may volunteer with an organization conducting eco-restoration or students in a health care management class might volunteer with a community health clinic.


Project-based service-learning courses require students to work together in teams or as a whole class to produce and deliver a product for one or more community-based organizations.  The project's deliverables are determined by the organization client(s).  These projects may involve a research component.  Students in a project-based service-learning course work together over the course of a semester, acting as consultants to the organization under the guidance of the professor.  Students in a microenterprise course, for example, might deliver a business plan to emerging entrepreneurs.  Students in a marketing class might develop and deliver a marketing strategy to a non-profit business association.


Education/Advocacy service-learning course require students to work together to illuminate a social or political issue for the broader community in order to inspire them to action for personal or social change.   Students might create a health fair or a public health symposium to disseminate information about critical issues facing the community.  Community members would use the information for personal or collective action.   Students might also create and publish materials (such as newspaper articles, magazines, web sites or electronic portfolios, videos, etc.) designed to make information more accessible to the general public. 

Support for Engaged Learning

The Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship provides comprehensive support for service-learning courses. If you are interested in developing a new course, please contact the Service-Learning Manager at celts@luc.edu.  

Risk Management

Sending students into the community can involve some risk, both for students and potentially for the members of the community whom they are trying to serve.  From the perspective of financial liability for the unintended consequences of students' community engagement (e.g. accidents occurring during transit or while providing service that impact either students or organization clients), faculty and students alike are protected by two layers of institutional liability coverage:  first, by Loyola's general liability coverage, insofar as that policy covers all academic activities including community-based assignments; and second, the liability coverage maintained by community-based organization partners who engage Loyola students as volunteers (particularly in placement model classes).  Note that students may void this coverage by engaging in activities that exceed their mandated role organization volunteers (even with the best of intentions); certain activities, such as driving students or clients in one's personal vehicle, also void external liability coverage in favor of the automotive insurance maintained by the driver.

Despite this retroactive coverage, faculty members should still be concerned with taking steps to equip students to manage their own risk in engaging in the community and with documenting the details of students' various engagements with the Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching, & Scholarship  as early as possible in the semester, thus allowing the CELTS to notify students of reported difficulties at their organizations or in the neighborhoods where they are serving.