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Design a Course

VCU courses that meet specific exemplary practice standards can be designated as service-learning courses in the VCU Schedule of Classes. Designation offers several advantages:

  • The letters “SL” will appear on the students’ official transcripts, indicating that they have completed a university-approved service-learning course.
  • Instructors who teach designated service-learning courses are offered the opportunity to have a trained teaching assistant assigned to them.
  • Instructors receive confidential end-of-semester feedback from student-completed online service-learning course evaluations that may be used in their annual reports and tenure and promotion portfolios.

When developing a service-learning course at VCU, you should consider the following:

  • Students in a designated service-learning class provide a service to address one or more community-identified needs.
  • The service experience elucidates the relevancy of the academic content of the course and knowledge from the academic discipline informs the service experience.
  • The service experience furthers students’ civic education while providing skill development valuable for career preparation.
  • Diverse teaching methods are used to encourage students to think about what they have learned through the service experience and how this new understanding relates to course content. Activities are designed so that class members learn from each other as well as from the instructor.
  • The course offers a method to assess the learning derived from the service. Assessment focuses on the students’ ability to demonstrate learning related to the academic content of the course, rather than for completion of service hours.
  • Recipients of the students’ service are offered an opportunity to be involved in the assessment of the service.
  • Each student participates in service activities for a minimum of 20 hours during the course. Commuting to and from the service site does not count toward this 20 hour minimum.
  • Service that is provided throughout the semester provides a richer learning opportunity than service that occurs as a one-time experience.

Designating a course as service-learning

Requests for course designation are considered on an ongoing basis. All faculty members who wish to teach a VCU service-learning course are encouraged to meet with Lynn Pelco, VCU Service-Learning Program director, to discuss their course development plans and to learn more about resources available to service-learning instructors. To have a course reviewed for designation, faculty members must submit the following documents via e-mail to the director at lepelco@vcu.edu:

  1. Current course syllabus – All designated service-learning course syllabi must show the VCU Statement of Service-Learning and evidence of reflection activities

    - VCU Statement of Service-Learning: Service-learning at VCU is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets community-identified needs. Students reflect on the service activity to increase understanding and application of course content and to enhance a sense of civic responsibility.

  2. VCU Service-learning Course Designation Form [Word Document]

Maintaining course designation

Service-learning course designations are reviewed on a three-year cycle to ensure that the course retains the above-noted exemplary practice standards. Service-learning course designation will be removed if the course no longer meets the criteria outlined above.

About these procedures

These procedures and criteria were endorsed by the VCU University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee on Oct. 9, 1997.