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California State University, Northridge
APPROVED by EPC February 28, 2001
California State University,
Northridge Policy on Service Learning
Governor Gray Davis recently allocated $2.2 million to the California
State University system to support of the expansion of service-learning
on CSU campuses. Repetition of this funding is expected for the
next four years. Service-learning is a pedagogy that combines explicit
academic learning objectives, preparation, and analysis with meaningful
activities in the community. This academic year CSUN has been given
$105,000 to support the development of new service-learning courses
and infrastructure. As funds are distributed to faculty, students,
departments and administrative office for the performance of specific
tasks under these allocation and others, a clear definition of service-learning
is of paramount importance. The Faculty Advisory Committee to the
Center for Community Service-Learning, comprised of representatives
form all eight Colleges, Student Affairs, Associated Students and
the community, has prepared the following proposal for consideration
by all appropriate units in the University.
I. Criteria for Service-Learning (CS-L) Designation in the University
Catalogue PREAMBLE California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
recognizes its privilege and responsibility to be responsive to
the needs of its community through meaningful and productive university-community
connections. CSUN's academic and co-curricular programs should reflect
and address the economic, social and cultural needs of its unique
region. Throughout the campus, programs along a Continuum of Service
provide a range of opportunities for students to perform meaningful
community activities. These include:
- Federal work/study jobs;
- paid or unpaid internships
- paid participation in service-projects funded by public or private
- community service-learning classes.
All of these activities involve partnerships with community-based
organizations in which service and resources are provided for the
benefit of under-served communities in need. In addition, these
programs foster social responsibility and a life-long commitment
to civic engagement in our students.
In the academic arena, research demonstrates that community service
learning is one of the most effective means of enhancing student
learning. Community-service learning is a pedagogy that integrates
explicit academic learning objectives, preparation and reflection
with meaningful work in the community. It focuses on learning through
assignments that involve the application of theory to practice and
result in improved student learning outcomes including enhanced
understanding of course content, critical thinking skills, retention,
sensitivity to diversity and the ability to apply academic concepts.
The community service may be direct service to people in need, community
outreach and education and/or policy analysis.
While all programs along the Continuum of Service benefit local
communities, community-service learning differs from the others
because of its equal emphasis on academic preparation, civic engagement
and professional preparation through structured reflection and assessment
of student learning outcomes. Students, faculty and administrators
must have a clear understanding of the definition and standards
of a service learning course to facilitate enrollment, planning,
staffing, budgeting and accountability. Therefore, to be designated
as a Community-Service Learning Course (CSL), in the catalogue and
for administrative purposes, the following criteria must be met:
Courses receiving the CSL designation require the following elements:
- Integrate course theory/concepts with service in the community
that directly addresses community needs (i.e. a situation where
theory/concepts can be tested in practice, or a situation where
community needs demand innovative solutions).
- The course is academically rigorous,as determined by Department
and College curriculum committees, and appropriate for the students'
academic preparation and course content.
- Students are evaluated according to their ability to integrate
course material and the community service experience, not just
for completing the course and its service component.
- The course is arranged in partnership with an approved community-based
- The experience provides the community partner with useful service
(i.e. tutoring, enrichment lessons, health education, research,
report writing as distinct from mere observation).
- The community service component fulfills at least 15%, but not
more than 30% of the student's requirements for the course. In
a three-unit course, this translates to a minimum of 20 and a
maximum of 40 hours (rounded off and based on a formula that states
each in-class hour may be complemented by two additional out-of-class
hours of academically related work). Preparation time may be included
in the calculations, with justification.
- Participation in the service component is mandatory. In those
rare instances when a student can not meet this obligation, (i.e.
disability, medical emergency or unanticipated work commitments)
that student will be given an appropriate assignment that supports
the service activities of fellow students, such as preparing materials
for community use.
- The reflective component ensures that students analyze their
community service experiences and can synthesize them with their
- the community -based organization liaison or supervisor and
the Center for Community-Service Learning.
- The partnership does not represent a conflict of interest to
the faculty or students participating in the service experience.
- It is recommended that readings for the course include materials
that provide an introduction to the San Fernando Valley community,
to community service and to nonprofit organizations. These Readings
are being prepared by the Center for Community-Service Learning
and will be available for Fall 2001.
Policy for Approval of a Service-Learning Course
Departments seeking service learning (CSL) designation for courses
will follow the normal policies and procedures for creating/modifying
curriculum. A justification will address the criteria set forth
above. In addition, when appropriate, a further statement will provide
a rational for including preparation as part of the allocated community
service time. This may occur, for example, when the application
of theoretical principles may require extensive time to develop/assemble
material that will eventually be utilized at the community site.
If multiple sections of the same course are offered, those with
service-learning components will be identified with footnotes in
the schedule of classes.
Policy for Monitoring a Service Learning Course
EPC will conduct a review of all service-learning classes once
every five years to determine their continued viability by reviewing
University-wide assessment reports provided by the campus Center
for Community-Service Learning and other appropriate data.