“Pure” Service-Learning

These are courses that send students out into the community to serve. At the intellectual core of these courses lies the idea of service to communities by students as active and engaged citizens. Typically, they are not lodged in one specific discipline.

Discipline-Based Service-Learning

In this model, students are expected to have a presence in the community throughout the semester using course content as a basis for their analysis and understanding. 

Problem-Based Service-Learning (PBSL)

According to this model, students, or teams of students, relate to the community as consultants working for a client. Students work with community members to understand a particular community problem or need.  This model presumes that the students will have some knowledge they can draw upon to make recommendations to the community or develop a solution to the problem. 

Capstone Courses

These courses ask students to draw upon the knowledge they have obtained throughout their course work and combine it with relevant service work in the community. Capstone courses offer an excellent way to help students make the transition from the world of theory to the world of practice by gathering experience and making professional contacts.

Service Internships

Like traditional internships, these experiences are more intense than typical service learning courses, with students working as many as 10-20 hours per week in a community setting.  However, unlike traditional internships, service internships have regular and ongoing reflective opportunities that help students analyze their new experiences using discipline-based theories. Service internships are further distinguished from traditional internships by their focus on reciprocity: the idea that the student and the community organization benefit equally from the experience.

Undergraduate Community-Based Action Research

Community-based action research is similar to an independent study option for students who are highly experienced in community work. In this model, students work closely with faculty members to learn research methodology while serving as advocates for the community by meeting their identified research needs.

Excerpted from Heffernan, Kerrissa. Fundamentals of Service-Learning Course Construction. RI: Campus Compact