Community Outreach & Leadership Development

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. In addition to being a valuable teaching tool, service-learning can fulfill an Engaged Learning graduation requirement. Visit the CORE website for more information.

The Office of Community Outreach and Leadership Development is here to help you. We have can help you find a community partner, discuss project ideas, review discipline-specific syllabi, and access reflection resources.

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

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.