What is Service-Learning?

At VCU, service-learning refers to an intentional teaching strategy that engages students in organized service activities and guided reflection. The service activities benefit the community and, in combination with reflection and other classroom-based learning activities, enhance the academic curriculum of participating students.

Service-learning designation is reserved for those credit-bearing academic experiences that involve each enrolled student in a minimum of 20 hours of service per semester, as well as in planned reflection activities. Classes that meet these criteria appear in the university’s Schedule of Classes and on the students’ transcripts as designated service-learning courses.

VCU Statement of Service-learning

Service-learning at Virginia Commonwealth University is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets community-identified needs. Service activities may be direct (e.g., mentoring youth, volunteering with patients, working in community gardens) or indirect (e.g., creating research reports, designing online or print materials); may be individual or group-based; may occur either on- or off-campus; may be scheduled at varying times of the week/day; may be focused in different parts of the city, and may involve a variety of community organizations. Individual service-learning classes do not offer all of these options.  Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the service activity options that are available in this class and to select from the available options the option that best suits their needs and interests. Students in all VCU service-learning classes participate in reflection activities that are designed to increase students' understanding and application of course content and to enhance their sense of civic responsibility.

If you would like to learn more about service-learning, several websites can provide you with basic information about service-learning theory and practice. We recommend you visit the National Service-learning Clearinghouse and Campus Compact to learn more about the pedagogy of service-learning.