Office of Academic Service Learning
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370-4445

Travus Burton

Faculty Resources


Service Learning at Oakland University Check List. This checklist can serve as a guide to incorporate service learning into a course. It should not serve as the sole resource used.

First consider the desired outcomes of the project:

  • What do I want students to learn/accomplish
  • Is another project/assignment or test going to be removed or altered in order to incorporate this project into the course (rather than just add it on)
  • I know the course goals/outcomes and how the service learning projects relates to them

Choose the type of service learning:

  • Project completed solely at the community organization (students serving in some capacity at the organization, such as performing direct service or working in the organization)
  • Project completed outside of community organization then presented to the org (such as a business plan, financial evaluation, etc)

Community Partnerships:

  • Is there a community partner in mind or will students choose an organization to work with
  • What type of organization is best to work with
  • Has the community organization been contacted regarding this project


  • Grading of the service project (guidelines or rubric exists)
  • Grading of reflection  (guidelines or rubric exists)
  • Will students evaluate the effectiveness of this project or have some means to express their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of the project

Structured Reflection:

  • Type of reflection has been considered and exits and is spread out over the course of the semester/project
  • Journals, presentations, discussions creativity, etc
  • Reflection challenges and allows students to think beyond the day to day activities and see the deeper meaning associated with their service learning experience
  • Reflection allows students to see how the project relates to the course

Safety Overview:

  • Risk and Liability issues have been considered
  • Including the project on the course syllabus reduces safety liability
  • Will students need to fill out a waiver to participate in volunteer activities

Overview Checklist:

  • Contact the Office of Academic Service Learning
  • Considered Community partner(s). Will students choose their own organization or is the faculty member choosing an organization?
  • The project is mentioned in the syllabus
  • The project is linked to course goals or outcomes
  • Reflection activities are included in the project
  • The three elements of service learning are included: structured reflection, meaningful service, and clear connection between the course and service project.
  • This project will benefit the community
  • I know the goal I have in mind for my students to complete this project
  • I have decided how to evaluate this component of the course
  • A list of the required components (for the project) to give students (either in the syllabus or on a separate handout) has been developed
Reflection Guide

Reflection strategies. This is a guide to reflection and contains different ideas to lead reflection and ways to encourage students to think beyond the daily activities they complete during the course of the service learning project. These are not the only methods that exist to lead reflection but are some ideas that can be used.

Reflection is key to guiding students through service learning and connecting the service projects to the course. Reflection does not have to be “touchy feeling” or focus solely on how students “feel” about their service work. It can include these topics but it should also focus on learning outcomes and the work students are doing.  It is also an opportunity for students to discuss the service work they are doing and the impacts it has.

It may take a couple weeks for students to make connections between the service work and the course but some students may notice connections right away.  Reflection allows students to think beyond the daily activities they complete at their service site. If students are completing an offsite project for an organization reflection can help them understand why the organization needs the project completed or why this project is a service to the organization.

Items to include in reflection:

  • What are students doing? Can include accomplishments, tangible or intangible outcomes, activities, events, etc
  • What are students learning?
  • Are students able to make connections between the course and the service project


  • Guided Journal entries: provide students with questions to think about their service work; such as: what populations are you serving? Why is there a need to service this population?  What are you learning from those you serve? How is this experience different than what you expected to encounter?
  • Guided in class discussions: can offer an opportunity for students to answer the same questions a journal entry would ask. It can also offer students the outlet to express accomplishments, frustrations and excitement or nerves.
  • Presentations: allows students to promote what they did to other classmates as well as take pride in the project.
  • Small group discussion: depending on your students this could produce a deeper reflection. Students may open up more in a smaller group than they would with the whole class. This may also allow for more students to share with each other producing some meaningful discussions
  • Journal writing: allows students to write about their experiences in a free writing setting. Some students may naturally focus on daily activities but encourage students to move beyond that. Can allow students to use their creative writing to express what they are learning through service work and how it’s impacting him/her.

Key elements of Reflection:

  • Students need to think beyond daily activities and events that occur during service
  • Students need to have safe space to express themselves 
COM 399

Dr. David Lau is one professor who teaches COM 399 Field Placement, which is the capstone course for Communications. All students graduating with a Communications degree are required to take this course. Through this course students participate in service learning. This service learning projects requires students to complete 60 hours of service throughout the semester. Students must be engaged in the community through their service.