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How do I get a Service Learning course approved at La Salle?

Criteria and Approval Process

The University’s Curriculum Committee has approved the following definition and criteria for a course to receive the Service Learning (SL) designation.  The Service Learning Advisory Board has been charged with the responsibility for reviewing courses both with a current SL designation and for new courses.

The value in having a course designated as service learning is related to our mission as well as good educational practice.  La Salle recognizes the importance of SL for our students’ development, and as an educational strategy to realize its mission.  SL fosters critical thinking and problem solving while also encouraging students to examine their responsibility as citizens “toward responsible engagement with the life of their times” (William M. Sullivan, “The Twin Elements of Learning: Knowledge and Judgment,” AAC& U’s Liberal Education, Vol. 96. No. 3).  Moreover, we expect that La Salle’s future core will encourage engaged learning practices, including service learning, under curricular requirements.

As an urban, Catholic university, La Salle seeks to embrace engaged pedagogies as a social and moral covenant.  This suggests taking students beyond a charity model of service to an examination of the structural issues which create a call for service.  Therefore, at its best, SL strives to expose students to the larger systemic issues of justice and to work for a more equitable society.


Service Learning Definition and Criteria 

In order for a course to be labeled a SL course, the following criteria meet both national standards as well as best practices that have developed at La Salle over the last decade.

Service Learning:

  • is a teaching and learning strategy.
  • provides students the opportunity to practice, perform, and observe the theories and practical applications of course content.
  • awards academic credit based on the student’s demonstration of learning course content, and not simply on participation in the service.
  • engages students in a minimum of 5 hours of service during the semester.
  • includes structured and on-going reflection on the interface of service and classroom experiences through a mix of writing, reading, speaking, and listening, individually and in groups.
  • is most effective with a sustained commitment throughout the semester.
  • is designed to meet community-identified needs.


Complete these steps to apply for Service Learning Designation:

Draft a 1-2 page document that details how your course includes each of the following:

  1. Identify the course learning objectives that will be enhanced through the engagement/service experience.
  2. What service will students provide and for what length of time?
  3. What reflection methods (minimum of two types) will be used to help students understand the connection between their service and the content of the course?
  4. How will you prepare students for real world engagement that includes cultural awareness, seeing both community assets and needs, establishing a reciprocal relationship, and growing in these understandings over time? What role will the community have in the partnership?
  5. How will you evaluate the learning that students have derived from the service experience?

Submit your application along with a copy of your syllabus and any related assignment instructions to the Director of Service Learning, Tara Carr-Lemke, at, who will share the materials with the Service Learning Advisory Board. The Board will evaluate the course in light of the definition and criteria noted above and may return the materials to the faculty person with feedback or suggested edits.  To receive the designation for the Fall semester, submit documents by March 1st and for the Spring semester by October 1st Once the designation has been granted, the registrar and deans’ offices will be notified.  A “SL” designation will accompany the course title and be listed on the course schedule.  Please note that approval for a service learning designation will generally be approved for a specific course section and specific instructor, except in the case when a department runs each section of the course identically.


Establishing a Community Partnership

It is helpful for the university to be aware of your community partnership for administrative and logistical purposes.  For a list and description of recent sites, go to and follow the Service Learning link to “Our Community Partners.”

If you would like your site to be vetted for safety purposes, please follow these steps:

  • Obtain course approval from the Service Learning Advisory Board.
  • Submit a site description (name, location, contact information) to Tara Carr-Lemke ( and Regina Gauss-Kosiek (
  • Allow one month for a site visit and memo of understanding to be completed by University Ministry and Service.
    • A representative of University Ministry and Service will contact the site and set up a time to meet and tour the facility. During the visit, the site is inspected for basic safety measures and the contact person is asked some basic questions to verify that they understand the role they play (verifying hours, evaluating students, and helping with reflection if necessary).
    • Once the site visit is complete, a site audit form will be completed with basic descriptions of the facility, roles that are available, and if there are any concerns or recommendations for a specific site.
  • You will be contacted when the process is complete.


Course Approval Process

Service Learning (SL) Courses (course already exists, just adding SL component) Faculty Develops SL Component to Existing Course => Department Reviews/Approves SL Component according to departmental protocol => Service-Learning Advisory Board Reviews/Approves => SL Director Notifies Registrar and Deans’ Offices
Service Learning Courses (new course with SL component) Faculty Develops New Course with SL Component => Department Reviews/Approves New Course with SL Component according to departmental protocol => Service-Learning Advisory Board Reviews/Approves => Home School CC Reviews/Approves => Other Schools’ CCs Review/Approve => FYI to University CC and Registrar

Following Approval

  1.      Faculty might reach out to SL Director to alert her that they are offering a SL course next semester => SL Director notifies Dean’s Offices about option for students =>Chair or PD adds course to roster/Br. Ed includes on schedule


  1.     SL Director reviews rosters that have been submitted by Chair to Br. Ed for SL options => SL Director reaches out to faculty members teaching past SL courses to make sure upcoming course is not SL => if it is (and has not been designated SL in roster) SL Director notifies Br. Ed of this change => SL Director notifies Deans’ Offices about option for students