skip to main content columnskip to left navigation

Service Learning

Department of Counseling and Human Services

Just for Faculty
Students in a service learning project

Why include Service-Learning in the traditional curriculum?

Service-Learning is a strategic goal for ETSU

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 the Department of Counseling and Human Services.
  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 third floor in Room 307 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 & Community Service
Tennessee Commission for National & Community Service
National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
101 Ideas For Combining Service & Learning


icon for left menu icon for right menu