Service Learning

SL Definition and Key Components

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Service Learning Definition:

"credit-bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs, and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of curricular content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility " (Bringle and Hatcher, 1995).  

 Key Components in Service Learning Course

The SLAC reviewed several models to determine key components for success in university-based service learning.  While we acknowledge that service learning models will vary by discipline, we recommend that every NIU service learning course do the following:

  • Provide meaningful engagement with the community
  • Make connections between  civic learning and course material
  • Require a minimum of 20 service hours per course
  • Integrate service activities into the course with care
  • Understand and use reflection activities as rigorous teaching and learning strategy

Want your course to have a SL designation?

  1. Fill out the Service Learning Course Identification Form.
  2. Email a copy of your course syllabus to
  3. Wait for review by the Service Learning Advisory Committee.

How do I know what courses have a SL designation?

  1. Your online class schedule: Once a course receives the SL designation, it will be noted in MyNIU with the attribute "SLCC" (Service Learning Course Component) and attribute value "SLCCOPT" (Service Learning Project Required).
  2. See the list of classes on the OSEEL website: Each semester, a list of SL-designated classes will be posted on the OSEEL website.  Students and faculty will be able to see the full list of SL classes offered in any given semester at NIU.