Adds Depth & Increases Engagement

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.35.04 AMUse service learning in your course to help students gain perspective. As an instructor, you strive to encourage students to learn, strengthen their understanding by adding depth to their knowledge, and give them real world experience through service learning. Service  learning is another facet of active learning. Ask students to apply what you teach.


Service learning is a well tested method.UAF’s mission stresses service by including the terms public service and active citizenship.(1) Service or experiential learning allows your students to practice their understanding.

Can service learning  be used in online  courses? Sue  McGorry researched  this with two  Marketing courses. Her  results suggest there  is no significant  difference between deploying service activities in a face to face modality versus an online environment.(2) I’ve come across multiple faculty using service learning since considering how to use it in CITS F222, my online Web Design course.(3)


  • Laura Conner has students in her Communicating Science course practice what they are learning by teaching science in a community setting.
  • Sarah Frick is having students add closed captioning to videos for a legal studies class. Online students use YouTube for this; they learn video and metadata concepts while making materials more accessible to students from another course.
  • Joanne Healy routinely has  undergraduate and graduate students working in K-12 classrooms. They learn valuable skills by observing students and teachers together.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.34.44 AM


Look to your fellow instructors as well as entities like the CNSM Office of Education and  Public Outreach who include  “training undergraduates and graduate students in science education and outreach practices’ and “to provide opportunities for, and assistance with, faculty outreach efforts’ as part of their goals.(4)  Break up the process over four stages to integrate service learning into a course:

  • PREPARE – Make sure service learning project aligns with the course goals listed in the syllabus; integrate the project into the course content.
  • IMPLEMENT – Provide philosophical and pedagogical support for learning objectives and outcomes prior to and during student experience.
  • REFLECT – Learning and performance is measured by students and instructors.
  • DEMONSTRATE/CELEBRATE – Students show  their work and instructors share with their peers.(5)

Have students reflect on the process; clearly communicate your reasons for using service learning. Be creative in your —teaching practices–your students will remember these types of activities for decades!

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.34.53 AM


(1) UAF Mission and background:  and

(2) McGorry, S.Y. (2012) No Significant Difference in Service Learning Online. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 45-54.

(3) CITS F222 Web Design project description:

(4) CNSM Office of Education and Public Outreach

(5) A Checklist for Implementing Service-Learning in Higher Education


Download Service Learning Teaching Tip PDF