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Center for Civic Engagement

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At UTSA we define service-learning as...

A teaching and learning strategy/pedagogy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection in an academic course to enrich the student learning experience, instill a sense of civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

Courses should have three basic criteria to be considered service-learning:
(1) Relevant and meaningful service with the community;
(2) enhanced academic learning; and
(3) purposeful civic learning.

Venn Diagram
Design a course

There are a number of helpful resources available to you as you discern how best to integrate a service-learning component in your course:

  • Campus Compact: a national coalition of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education.
  • Inclusive Teaching Resources and Strategy (in process)
  • Community Engagement Resources (in process)

The Center for Civic Engagement maintains a small library of resources maintains a small library of resources, including course design workbooks that could be very helpful. You can reserve these items by contacting servicelearning@utsa.edu. Additional resources can be found in the university library. The Center staff is available for consultation and assistance in designing your course. They can be particularly helpful in connecting you to potential resources and helping you establish relationships with community partners.

Finally, take advantage of a number of the professional development opportunities to help you design a new course. See the list of offerings here.

Once you have integrated the service learning component into your course, be sure to designate it in the course registration available on our Designate a Course page.


FAQ's of Faculty designing courses:

How do I develop relationships with community partners?

  • The center staff can be helpful in identifying potential community partnerships and will provide opportunities throughout the academic year for you to engage with community partners both on and off campus. Review the Collaborating with Community Partners document to help in guiding you through the process.
  • It is highly recommend that you work with the center in identifying partners, if you already have a relationship or a contact with an organization, please notify the center so we can keep track of community partner agencies.
  • It is important the all partners have an Educational Affiliation Agreement (good for five years) in place. Additionally a program agreement for service-learning will also be needed. The center staff will work with the appropriate UTSA departments and community partnering agency to get these documents in place.
  • See the Best Practices with Community Partners for additional details.

What waivers/liability forms are required?

  • The standard Release and Indemnification Waiver is required of all students participating in service-learning courses. Feel free to include this waiver within your syllabus and provide on the first day of class.

Who keeps track of student participation?

  • The student learning plan is a good template for helping to ensure all parties are on the same page for a service-learning project.
  • The community partners can work with you in tracking the student's participation by signing off on a timesheet or providing you with check-in/check-out data from the agency. You can negotiate this with the agency.
  • Student's time is tracked through our online Community Engagement portal, UTSA Engaged. Contact the Center for Civic Engagement if you would like your course set up on the system.

How many hours should be required?

  • Some faculty do not require a set number of hours, while others do. This depends on the time of project and the number of students engaged. 15- 20 hours is probably the most common requirement of a three hour course. Even if you do not have a set number of hours it is good to have an estimate of the time invested by your students for tracking purposes of our levels of community engagement. You and/or the student may get asked this question in follow up assessments. It's also essential to obtain the community partner's input on the number of hours and volunteers allowed at their agency. Some smaller agencies may feel overwhelmed with a large of number of students coming in for 15-20 hours/semester. It may place more work on the agency's limited staff to find projects for the students to do during that time.