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Think you can’t do Service Learning in your class?

Think again!

Service Learning Models

Service learning might include school programs, agencies, nursing homes, fundraising for non-profits, marketing materials, raising public awareness, museums, consulting for small business and startups, painting public spaces (e.g. park district walls, viaducts)

There are several ways to combine service learning objectives with coursework. This can be both exciting and overwhelming for students, faculty, and community partners who are new to the service learning pedagogy. In general, service learning typically follows one of the models listed below. Regardless of which model your service learning course follows, the foundation of any service learning is to provide students with the opportunity to have an active presence in the community, and to facilitate a student’s understanding of course content through personal reflection of their experiences.

Community Placements

In this instance, students carry out their service learning activities as individual contributors or in teams. Students may be responsible for identifying and securing a community partner on their own based on specific course criteria. Students may also choose from a list of instructor-approved community partners.

Students learn to research organizations in their community, gain an understanding of community needs, reach out to prospective agencies, and develop their professional network. Service learning students may be working directly with clients or end users, or they may be involved in indirect service - assisting an agency in a way that builds the agency's capacity to serve their clients. Direct service is a great approach for educators looking to provide students autonomy in their work. Individual placements are also ideal for students who have a desire to serve our communities but require a bit of structure to get started.

Client Projects

Some classes work with non-profit organizations or small businesses on projects that rely on the course content. It may involve developing a marketing plan, designing graphics, or rebranding. The nature of the project is determined collaboratively between the community partner, the faculty, and the students. 

Community Based Research

Community based research can take a wide variety of forms throughout many different types of communities, agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and public spaces. Community based research engages students in research with the community under the supervision of faculty.

Community based research provides students with experiential learning in courses that are heavily focused on research and methodology. Students pursuing graduate school are encouraged to take a service learning course that includes a community based research component.

Faculty conducting community research are eligible to apply for the Community Based Research Fellows Program. The program provides funds for student research assistants and research supplies.

Ideas from MSU Denver classes

To get started on your own service learning, research community access to the arts, funding for community participation in the arts, propose strategies for increasing access, study environmental impact of (pick your favorite cause), interview residents for local history.

Below are some of the majors that offer service learning at MSU Denver. For examples of how these students are involved in the community, check out our Student news stories page.

Accounting | Art | Communication Arts and Sciences | Communication Design | Dance

Education| Exercise Science | Fire and Emergency Services | French |  Gender and Women’s Studies

Geography | Honors | Human Performance and Sport | Human Services & Counseling | Integrative Health Care

Journalism | Marketing | Management | Meteorology | Nursing | Nutrition | Political Science | Psychology

Social Work | Sociology | Spanish | Sports Management | Therapeutic Recreation

Additional examples

You can find additional examples by doing an online search or visiting the sources below.

Service Learning Magazine 

Campus Compact has over 300 examples of course syllabi 


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