Loyola University Chicago


Center for Experiential Learning


Service-Learning is a pedagogy and learning method that provides the community-based experience through which learning and critical reflection can take place integrated into traditional academic coursework. These experiences become an “integrated text” for the course and assist with making learning the subject matter even more dynamic and relevant. 

Here at LUC, Service-Learning is facilitated by the Center for Experiential Learning and has the following hallmarks:

  • Engaging The Material –We want students to think critically about how their academic course material is interplaying with their service-learning and lived experiences.
  • Encounter - The opportunity to build relationships with the residents of our communities is taken seriously. Service-learning is more than completing a task; it is about honoring and appreciating the history, knowledge, and assets of that community and its members.
  • Common Good – We ask students to consider their actions in the community in the context of building toward the common good. How might service and action help to build the common good? How might their learning, coursework, and vocational path ultimately contribute to the common good?

In ANY service-learning class, critical reflection helps students to “make the connection” between their community-based experiences and class content, helping them ask important questions about what this experience will mean for their future learning and life trajectory.


All approved service-learning courses fulfill the University's Engaged Learning requirement.  

Approved, designated service-learning classes can be searched in LOCUS using the "Search for Classes" feature. Service-learning classes and sections (like all Engaged Learning classes) are designated with an "E" as part of their section number, e.g. UNIV 290-01E

For more information about the Engaged Learning university requirement, visit the core curriculum website.

Instructors or students who are participating in a class that would seem to fit the university's definition of service-learning (i.e. the class requires approximately 20+ hours of direct or indirect service to one or more nonprofit or community-based organizations and actively integrates that community-based experience with course content) but that has not been designated as such in LOCUS should contact the CEL at experiential@luc.edu

A service-learning course design can increase students’ interest in a subject matter and enhance their understanding of its relevance for "real world" settings. 

Loyola service-learning students overwhelmingly agree with this: over 87% agree or strongly agree that they were "more engaged in [their] service-learning course topic" after taking their service-learning class (CEL survey data, aggregated, 2010-2016).‌

Classroom activities and assignments that require students to reflect on their own learning in connection with community-based experiences also build (self-)critical reasoning and communication skills.


There are several ways to facilitate service-learning experiences or structure a class to engage students in a community-based learning experience.  Regardless of model, all service-learning courses involve two common elements:  1) Student engagement in a service experience that is responsive to community priorities and aligns with course outcomes; and 2) Structured opportunities for reflection embedded in the course (assignments, discussions, final projects) that help students draw meaning from their community- based experiences and connect them to course content. Generally speaking, service-learning classes fall into one of three "types" at Loyola.

Placement service-learning classes require students to offer 20-40+ hours of direct service to a single non-profit organization as a member of their volunteer team.  In placement classes, reflection exercises help students learn from their on-site experiences, which should relate directly to the content of the class.

Project service-learning classes engage students in producing a substantial deliverable for one or more non-profit organizations that function as "clients" for the students.  The projects can be either research-oriented or deliver a concrete product (e.g., a business plan, a fundraising event, or an "industry video" that talks about the organization and its work).

Community Education/Advocacy service-learning classes challenge students to share the knowledge they have gained in their class with others (often youth or the clients of a non-profit organization) for the sake of advancing community understanding, advocacy, or community organizing/mobilization. 


In many classes, course instructors will designate either one partner organization or a small, pre-determined group of organizations from which students can choose their volunteer site.  In others, the choice of the organization is left up to individual students.

Students seeking more information about identifying, connecting with, and documenting appropriate service sites for a particular class, check out this site of recommended partners or contact experiential@luc.edu.

Faculty or course instructors seeking to find non-profit partners for their courses or class projects should contact Susan Haarman, shaarman@luc.edu to discuss the specific learning goals of their students' community-based experience.