Below are some frequently asked questions we get about service learning.

Service Learning is an educational strategy which engages the learner in activities which connect meaningful community service with learning goals and reflection.

In the classroom, you will learn theories. Service Learning is the action piece of your learning. Active participation and reflection will help you learn more about yourself, your community, and issues in the world at large. And, you gain the satisfaction of actively engaging with and contributing to the local, national, or global communities.

Service Learning is not required for graduation. Experiential Learning is required for graduation and service learning is one of the ways to fulfill this Experiential Learning requirement.

Experiential Learning is a graduation requirement specified in the Elmhurst University Integrated Curriculum (ECIC). The ECIC designates that all students participate in an activity which:

  1. Includes at least 15 hours spent at an off-campus site or as part of an internship or research experience on-campus that involves off-campus constituencies (e.g., the speech clinic, collecting data off campus, presenting at conferences, etc.)
  2. Is grounded in a disciplinary or academic experience, which is part of a course for at least 0.25 units, or transcripted for no credit
  3. Includes a formal reflective component, linking classroom learning with experiential learning.

There are a variety of ways to fulfill this EL requirement. These include taking a course which has an EL designation, registering for EXP 250 with the Service Learning Program, registering for an internship, taking a Study Away course, and more. For courses that include the EL designation, search under “Course Type” at the right top of the screen when searching for courses on Self-Service. Many of the courses are particular to specific majors, but some are open to all majors (e.g., REL 230).

So, Service Learning is a type of Experiential Learning.

The Elmhurst University Integrated Curriculum specifies 15 hours of an off-campus, onsite experience as one necessary component to fulfill the EL graduation requirement. However, any student hesitant to complete service on-site should contact Dr. Mary Walsh or Michelle Reidy regarding possible modifications and alternate options for online/remote service.

EXP 250 is a non-credit course option for fulfilling the EL designation. See the EXP 250 application form.

See Policies and Guidelines for Students. Note, it is essential that the student complete a waiver before service begins. This waiver should be filed with the supervising faculty member. Also, registration must be completed with the Registrar for any EL-designated option (eg., EXP 250). This waiver is available on the Resources page.

There are three main types of service at nonprofit or community organizations available through the Service Learning Program at Elmhurst University:

  1. Direct service to individuals (e.g. tutoring a student or leading an activity at an assisted living center)
  2. Indirect service (e.g. cataloging at a resale shop, shelving items at a food pantry, or fundraising)
  3. Advocacy work (e.g. helping make change possible by writing letters, protesting, or giving presentations)

See the community partners page.

Yes, but make sure to seek the approval of the Service Learning staff and/or your instructor before you start.

Yes, but make sure the sites are related by a common issue and your learning goals. You should also get approval from your instructor.

If you are pursuing service for credit, you should plan to contact organizations in the second week of the semester so you can schedule your time. You should pursue the actual service as soon as possible and certainly well before the semester ends. Be sure to abide by any deadlines set by your supervising faculty member.

You should talk to your instructor about this.

Travel costs are not reimbursable except in extraordinary cases, which are approved in advance.

Use your discretion to dress appropriately for the service with which you will be engaged. Please dress in a way that respects the organization and the people with whom you will be interacting. You may dress differently when serving with Special Olympics than at a Senior Center, but in all cases, you should remember that you are building relationships and dress in a way that supports that goal. If in doubt, ask someone at the service organization.

Talk to your instructor and the Service Learning staff about anything that is on your mind. We also recommend that you serve with another student from your class whenever possible.

Make sure to let the organization know as soon as possible, explain and apologize, and work with them to reschedule the time. If you are permanently withdrawing from the site, let your instructor and the Service Learning staff know immediately.

Do not just disappear when you are finished! Consider a verbal or written thank you to anyone at the service site who has helped you. The staff at nonprofits often do not hear enough positive affirmation for the hard work and long hours they put into their work.

The Service Learning staff is eager to hear about your experiences at organizations. Contact us so we can learn from you and develop this program.

Check with the staff at the site before taking any pictures. We strongly recommend that you do NOT take pictures of minors under any circumstance.

Talk to the staff at the Weigand Center for Professional Excellence about this, but if appropriate and pertinent, yes.

Talk to your instructor and/or the Service Learning Staff.

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