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Guide to Service-Learning

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Students can also receive an Engaged Learning graduation requirement by taking a designated service-learning course.

Planning and implementing a service-learning course can seem daunting at first. But we are here to help you all along the way. 


Our door is open for you to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of our staff. We offer the following resources and services for you as you are in the planning stage.

  • Thinking through logistics of service: transportation, budgets, hours of operation, bringing a representative from partner organization to class, etc.
  • Overall understanding of trends of Springfield community assets and needs
  • Access to approved community partner database
  • Texts available in our office (FSC 117) on various topics, including assessment, course construction, risk and liability, leadership, reflection, etc.
  • Working with local media to promote positive media coverage about your community engagement
  • Assessment and evaluation of project: from perspective of students and community partner

Class Presentations

We can come into your class in order to better prepare your students for their service-learning experience. We have found that students love doing service-learning in their classes through course evaluations, but some may be hesitant to the idea. These hesitations are typically short-lived, and can be quelled with the right preparation before they enter into the community. While we do not have to be the ones that come into your classes to do this, we do ask that students are prepared with the following topics

  • Importance of their work in the community
  • How service-learning is different from volunteering
  • Best practices of serving in the community
  • Transferable skills they are gaining in this project and how these tie in with what employers want from new hires
  • Asset-based versus need-based community development
  • Diversity of Springfield and importance of sensitivity to diversity
  • Leadership Drury Certificate
  • We are also available to help lead reflection after the service-learning project is completed

Liability & Risk Management

  • All students must sign a basic liability waiver before their service-learning project. They only need to sign this once (even if they are going to a partner site multiple times). These should be kept in a safe place so that you have access to their emergency contact information.
  • If students are driving off-campus and taking other students with them, we recommend that the driver completes a Motor Vehicle Report
  • Please direct all other questions about liability and insurance coverage to David Hinson 

The National Service-Learning Movement

  • Campus Compact: Drury University is a member of this national coalition of higher education institutions committed to civic engagement and service-learning.
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service: This federal agency seeks to support all service activities across the United States, especially service-learning projects.

Key Questions to Consider When Designing a Service-Learning Course

  1. What are your course learning objectives? Think about what you want your students to get out of the service component of your course. The service project should compliment what you do in the classroom, and expand their learning experience.
  2. What skills do your students have to offer? Everyone has skills that nonprofits would love to tap into. Think about the skills students may have coming into your class, and try to tap into those. For example, if you are working with upper class architecture students, try using their skill set to your advantage when designing your service-learning course.
  3. How many hours do you want to devote to the service project? Organizations like to know up-front how many hours each student will be able to work with them. For a typical semester-long class, the standard is 15 hours per student.
  4. Do you want to serve with a group or as an individual? Group volunteer projects are very different from individual projects. Will students work together in teams? As a class? Or individually? These can all yield different results, depending on the learning objectives you have laid out for your course.
  5. What are the area community needs and assets? To start, consult the Springfield-Greene County Community Focus Report, which is published every other year. This report outlines the red flags (needs) and the blue ribbons (assets) of our local community, which will help you better understand how your class can plug in to support the structures that are in place.
  6. With what organization do you want to partner? To view a list of nonprofit agencies that regularly handle volunteers, visit the United Way’s 211 Database. The Springfield-Greene County Library also has an exhaustive directory of nonprofits which allows you to search by subject or keyword.
    • Ask potential host sites whether they have submitted the necessary Community Partnership Form for accepting Drury volunteers. For questions regarding whether or not the nonprofit you desire working with has submitted these forms, contact our office.
  7. How will you orient your students to volunteering? Check out our Tips for Successful Volunteers which will help you and your class get the most out of your service experience. Also speak with your partner about any special orientation, training, and/or background checks the students will need to complete before jumping into the project.
  8. Who is your contact? When you email or call an organization, you should work with the Volunteer Services Coordinator or someone in a similar position who regularly schedules and recruits volunteers.
  9. How will you submit your service hours? When you are finished with your service-learning course, complete the Academic Service-Learning Course Validation Form to submit the service hours completed during the class.

If you need further assistance, or want us to walk you through the process of finding a good community partner to set up a service-learning course with, contact us: (417) 873-6803 or