Service-Learning is an opportunity for students to provide community service to local non-profit agencies while receiving college credit. It offers an opportunity to explore the connections of academic theory and the practical needs of the community while expanding overall knowledge of community-based problems.

Students learn to enrich their real life service experience by applying it to the learning process in ways like self-reflection, self-discovery and learning new skills and knowledge.

Service-Learning courses can also fulfill one of two Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) requirements, which are part of the general education curriculum. Service-learning courses can be taken to complete the ECCE Engagement or the ECCE Elective requirements.

Student Benefits

Service-Learning courses are great ways to introduce new opportunities to you and the local community.  These opportunities provide benefits to all parties involved by giving you a new avenue of learning, giving faculty a new way of teaching, and giving communities the support and assistance they need of a local university.

  • Provides you with real-life application of what you learn in the classroom
  • Helps prepare you for the world of work by exposure to the workings of various agencies
  • Gives you the opportunity to explore possible college majors and future careers
  • Students have the potential to gain professional skills and knowledge in agency settings
  • Enhances employability, and you may receive job offers, and/or scholarships from service-learning opportunities
  • Makes curriculum relevant to your life, making learning more useful
  • Increases your awareness of current societal issues
  • Encourages multicultural awareness, and promotes the value of diversity
  • Develops critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Promotes community and civic responsibility, and allows you to serve as an involved citizen in your community
  • Promotes your intellectual growth, leadership development, and personal and social growth, including interpersonal and communication skills

Student FAQs

What is Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is a teaching and learning method in which students provide meaningful service in the community to help them better understand what they are learning in their courses. Service-Learning focuses on critical thinking, problem-solving, personal development, and community responsibility.  Service-Learning courses typically require 40 hours of direct service to complement the coursework throughout the semester.

Are all Service-Learning courses the same?

No. Some Service-Learning courses are more general and focus on a broad view of service and leadership; the sites to choose from vary by subject area.  Other Service-Learning courses are issue-based, which means that the course focuses on one specific issue, and the service sites are related to that issue.  Other Service-Learning courses are project-based, which means that the service is not necessarily contained to one site, but may span across sites in order to complete a specific project.

Do I need instructor approval to take Service-Learning courses?

Instructor approval is not required for most Service-Learning courses.

Are Service-Learning courses required?

Service-Learning courses are not specifically required; however, Service-Learning courses can potentially fulfill either an ECCE Engagement or ECCE Elective requirement, depending on your major.

Can I pick any non-profit agency to complete my service hours?

IPL/service-learning instructors may have suggestions for service-learning sites, and you can also find service opportunities through the Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center. If you wish to complete service hours at another site, you will need to have your site approved by your instructor. A determining factor in site approval is the ability of the agency to provide feedback to you (the student) and to the professor at various times during the semester.

Can I use my current job as a service site for a Service-Learning course?

No. The purpose of Service-Learning courses is to provide needed service to the community, and if you are already working and getting paid at an agency, that need is already filled. You might be able to complete an Internship (for ECCE Engagement/Elective credit) where you currently work.  Contact the IPL office for more information.

How far in advance should I start preparing/registering for a Service-Learning course?

Service-Learning courses can be registered for at the same time that you register for your other classes. However, if you plan on completing your service hours where you would be working directly with children or vulnerable populations, you need to start a month or more in advance; it takes a few weeks for background checks to be processed.

What is Service-Learning Immersion?

A service-learning immersion course involves students becoming fully immersed in a service experience for a period of time. In the past, UIS students enrolled in the immersion course and earned credit for the alternative spring break service trip.