Courses » Course Development

There are a variety of resources available for faculty considering developing a service-learning course or for the seasoned users of service-learning who are searching for additional ideas or support.

Contact the Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) if you have questions or would like support in developing or revising a service-learning course.


Service-Learning Course Design


Sample Service-Learning Course Syllabi

Please submit your course syllabi to casle@servicelearning.msstate.edu to be shared on the website.


Reflection Resources

“Reflection describes the process of deriving meaning and knowledge from experience and occurs before, during and after a service-learning project. Effective reflection engages both service-learning leaders and participants in a thoughtful and thought-provoking process that consciously connects learning with experience. It is the use of critical thinking skills to prepare for and learn from service experiences.” --National Service-Learning Clearinghouse

Benefits of Reflection

  • Connects coursework and theory with service in the community
  • Develops critical thinking skills
  • Challenges assumptions and opinions formed out of experience
  • Understand the complexity of the need for the service in a large context
  • Transformational

Integrating Reflection into Service-Learning Courses

There are a variety of ways for students to reflect on their service-learning experience. Below are examples of how reflection has been integrated into service-learning courses.

Articles about Reflection

Helpful Websites


Assessment Resources


Risk Management Recommendations

Prior to when students leave the campus to participate in service-learning experiences, risk management and liability should be addressed. Above all, student safety and expectations of a partner site should be discussed.

The Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) is currently working with the Mississippi State University administration to conduct a review of risk management policies and procedures. An update will be provided soon. In the meantime, please review the guiding principles for risk management listed below.

Guiding Principles to Reduce Risk in Service-Learning

  • DO provide campus and community orientations to familiarize students with policies, procedures and risks involved in the specific service activities they will be providing and with the populations they serve.
  • DO discuss the service-learning project with students so they fully understand their responsibilities, learning objectives and service objectives, and are informed of the risks associated with their service-learning placements. Students should complete a Service-Learning Contract, and have their site supervisor(s) and faculty member review and sign it as well.
  • DO understand that faculty members can be individually named in lawsuits and should play an active role in ensuring safe and positive service-learning experiences for their students.
  • DO know that faculty members will be indemnified and protected by the university in the case of a lawsuit, so long as the faculty member was acting within the scope of his or her work.
  • DO offer alternative placements and/or opportunities for students in service-learning courses to avoid potential risks.
  • DO be aware that there are state and federal regulations regarding fingerprinting and background checks for those students whose service-learning placements are in organizations that work with children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities. The cost of these backgrounds checks can be an additional financial burden for a particular placement – in some cases students may be asked to pay for these checks.
  • DO know when each student is scheduled to provide service and be able to verify that the student did provide the service at the community-based organization site. This will help to determine who holds liability for student behavior or student injury at any given time.
  • DON'T assume that campus and site orientations are consistent; they vary among courses, campuses, departments and community-based organizations.
  • DON'T assume that students are aware of such issues as liability or sexual harassment policies. Both campus and site orientations are necessary to familiarize students with any potential risks involved with service-learning activities.

  • Online Resources

    • American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education.
    • American Association of State Colleges and Universities runs the American Democracy Project, a multi-campus initiative focused on higher education's role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens
    • Building a Better World is a wiki with peer-reviewed articles, syllabus examples, curriculum development, and reflection activities for local and international service-learning.
    • Campus Compact is a member organization of universities and colleges committed to educating students to become active citizens who are well equipped to develop creative solutions to society's most pressing issues
    • Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center devoted to encourage and uphold the profession of the teacher
    • CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) conducts and publishes research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans
    • National Service-Learning Clearinghouse is Learn & Serve America's comprehensive resource for finding definitions, resources, examples, models, and programs.