What is Service Learning?

We know that we learn most effectively when we learn by doing. Sometimes, course content seems abstract, or makes sense in “theory” but is difficult to really understand until we put those ideas into action. In education, we call that “experiential learning”. Service learning is a type of experiential learning where the experience takes place in and with a community and for the benefit of that community. In effect, service learning is when students do community service by applying the concepts and skills they are learning in the classroom to an activity in the community.

Successful service learning activities have the following characteristics:

  • The community service is directly related to course content and goals.
  • The community service is done with and for the benefit of a community organization as a public service (as opposed to a for-profit entity).
  • Students have substantial opportunity to reflect on the service activity and how the service relates to the course content.

If you are a student seeking a service learning opportunity, please contact our office and we will help you find courses and faculty members to work with. We can also get you set up in a service placement in the community and work with your instructor so that your service counts toward some requirement in your coursework.

If you are faculty member interested in learning how to include a service-learning component in your courses, or would like additional information on this pedagogy, please contact our office to schedule a meeting. If you are already including service learning in your courses or programs, please let us know so we can profile your projects here and get the word out!

Service Learning Showcase

The Spring Service Learning Showcase will be April 30th, 4-6pm at the CESS building. We will be celebrating the service learning projects and activities for the semester with exhibits and festivities. To register a service learning exhibit for the showcase, please register at: We welcome group exhibits. Exhibits may be posters, videos (you will need to provide your own laptop), scrapbooks, or any other creative demonstrations of the service or organization. For further information, email, or call 956-665-3461.

UTPA Report: Helping communities for class credit

Students at The University of Texas-Pan American have been providing valuable help to their communities while earning college credit. Click here to Learn More


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Dr. Danika M. Brown