Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

Faculty FAQs

What is Service-Learning?
Service-learning is a learning experience that combines service with the community with structured preparation and reflection opportunities. Service opportunities are tied to academic coursework and address concerns that are identified and articulated by the community. As students engage in service-learning, they learn about the context in which service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their roles as community members.

How does service-learning work at the UW?
Each quarter, faculty and instructors from numerous disciplines across campus elect to integrate service-learning into their courses. Carlson Center staff work closely with course instructors to identify learning objectives for students while simultaneously working with community-based organizations to identify their volunteer and community needs and the educational opportunities they would like to offer for students. Courses and organizations are subsequently matched to meet both the learning objectives of the instructor and the community-identified needs and learning opportunities of the organization.

Service-learning has the following components:

  • three to five (or more) hours of volunteering each week, from the second week of the quarter through the last week of classes, depending on the organization’s needs.
  • meeting the commitment students are making to the organization, and to thoughtfully integrating their experiences in the community with classroom work.
  • the community-based organization provides a structured learning experience for the student.
  • the faculty member or instructor assists the students in thoughtfully integrating their community experiences into course assignments and discussions.
  • the quarter-long opportunity usually culminates in a reflective paper or related project, demonstrating the student’s understanding of classroom theories applied to community involvement.

How will I know if a student has successfully completed their service-learning commitment?

  • At the end of the quarter, the Carlson Center will ask your site supervisor to complete an online evaluation of your service-learning commitment. This evaluation will be shared with both your course instructor and the Carlson Center.

Who should I contact if i want to integrate service-learning or have questions about integrating service-learning?

  • Kathryn Pursch Cornforth manages faculty service-learning relationships. You can contact her via email: or by phone: 206.616.0784

What should I keep in mind when incorporating/ thinking about incorporating service-learning into my course?