Service-Learning is a strategic goal for East Tennessee State University with plans for increasing the number of courses with service-learning components. It also serves as a factor in performance funding for ETSU. Service-Learning is a way to address the growing level of interest and sense of urgency about community and public service issues. Service-Learning can promote connections between students learning in the classroom and the applications of that learning in the real world. Service-Learning links education, work/community and personal development. Service-Learning is a way to meet the mission of East Tennessee State University.
How to incorporate Service-Learning into your course
1) To qualify as service-learning an activity must meet the following criteria at ETSU:
- The students efforts must help other individuals, groups or communities achieve goals or meet needs which to date have not been adequately addressed. Serving others must be a central, planned aim of the activity. Service to others cannot be a secondary benefit of an activity designed chiefly to help students practice vocational skills or gain work experience.
- The activity must engage students in conscious reflection about what they learned from the activity. Students must present the results of their reflection to the instructor and/or others involved in the service-learning activity.
- Service-Learning activities must require at least 10 hours of work per team, not including time spent in reflection on the activity.
- All parties in the service-learning activity must formally negotiate their responsibilities and expected benefits prior to the start of the service-learning activity. Results of this agreement must be documented in writing. If a service-learning activity will occur within a for-credit course, it must appear on the course syllabus.
- The activity must be registered with the office of Service-Learning in Human Development and Learning.
2) Optional elements of service-learning:
- Service-Learning will most often occur off campus and serve people who are not ETSU students or employees. However, service-learning may occur on campus or provide special services to ETSU students or employees.
- Service-Learning may be done for academic credit or as noncredit, volunteer work.
- Service-Learning will most often be unpaid, except for compensated expenses. However, receiving minimal pay for an activity does not exclude it from service-learning status, if the activity meets criteria under item 1.
- Service-Learning will most often occur in governmental or non-profit settings. It may occur in for profit settings, if it meets criteria under item 1.
3) Ordinarily, these community-based learning experiences will not count as service-learning:
- Student teaching
- Clinical experience in the health professions
- Student internships and cooperative education assignments
- Fraternity and sorority service projects
- Work done primarily to benefit ETSU student organizations
- Religious evangelism
- Military service
- Work done on behalf of political parties or candidates
- Work done primarily to create new businesses or increase the profitability of existing businesses, except where there are significant benefits for community development
- Activities in which the sole or primary task is fund raising for non-profit organizations. If you are unsure, please contact us at
4) ETSU asks that all service-learning courses be registered with the Office of Service-Learning. Please complete the course registration form and return to the Office of Service-Learning, Dept. of Counseling and Human Services, PO Box 70701, Johnson City, TN 37614 or fax to 423-439-7790 before the semester begins. Tracking students, courses, as well as course evaluations and assessment key roles assigned to the Office of Service-Learning.
How can the Office of Service-Learning assist faculty?
- Develop relevant site placements for the course
- Provide paperwork to document service-learning (student application, waiver of liability/release hold harmless agreement, agency site contract, service hours log, agency evaluation of student)
- Inform students about the service-learning process and placement sites
- Placement of students
- Monitor and maintain service-learning forms
- Provide updates on students progress and completion of hours
- Conduct site visits
- Evaluate the service-learning program
- Consultation on developing service-learning course components (syllabi revision, reflection, etc.)
- Resource Library - we maintain a collection of books, articles, journals, simulation activities, tool kits, etc.
The Office of Service-Learning is part of the Department of Counseling and Human Services. It is located on the fourth floor in Room 423 in Warf-Pickel. The phone number is 423-439-7776 or 423-439-7775.
National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE)
Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning
Corporation for National Service
Tennessee Commission for National & Community Service
Institute for Global Education & Service-Learning
National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
101 Ideas For Combining Service & Learning