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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
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St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Service Learning

Service Learning

Reflective Service-Learning in General Education

Letter to Students

Socrates reveals to Plato in the Apology that we are “worth nothing with respect to wisdom” and know little about what we need to know to lead a good and just life. Socrates is asking us to not forget our ignorance and never claim to already know the answer to the question, “How should one live?” A liberal education at Eckerd College is designed to provide you with some tools and understandings to help you answer that question for yourself. Our goal isn’t to proselytize you into becoming a particular type of person. Rather, we aim to open up your world to the different bodies of knowledge and diverse ways of seeing and understanding our national society and global community. It is our belief that your experience with service learning will help you to decide for yourself how to live a good life.

A foundational principle of general education at Eckerd College is the requirement that all students engage in reflective service-learning. The value of reflective service-learning is well established and correlates with greater success in college. Reflective service-learning at Eckerd has also, for many years, cultivated in our students a deeper understanding of the ways in which a liberal arts education can translate into ethical action.

Since its inception, the Eckerd College general education program has accepted the obligation of higher education to promote democratic values, civic responsibility and good national and global citizenship. Our hope is that the totality of your experiences at our school will better prepare you for a constructive and productive role in society. Reflective service-learning is central to reaching these liberal arts objectives.

I hope that you have a dynamic, fulfilling, and rewarding reflective service-learning experience while at Eckerd that enhances your intellectual and life journey!


William Felice
Associate Dean of General Education

Reflective Service Learning

Reflective Service-Learning, as defined by Eckerd's General Education program, is: A carefully monitored service experience in which a student
(a) has intentional learning goals,
(b) critically reflects on what is learned throughout the experience in such a way as to lead to academic enhancement, civic learning and personal growth,
(c) addresses community or global issues and
(d) develops an understanding of their roles and responsibilities as engaged citizens

Learning Goals

The objective of reflective service-learning is to address three main categories of learning: academic enhancement, civic learning, and personal growth.

Eckerd's General Education program has identified the following reflective service-learning goals:

Academic Enhancement

  • Intellectual engagement
  • Critical thinking
  • Connection between academic material and SL
  • Problem solving

Civic Learning

  • Constructive community engagement
  • Civic responsibility
  • Global understanding
  • Environmental awareness
  • Understanding of social issues

Personal Growth

  • Communication skills
  • Values identification
  • Leadership
  • Openness to diverse perspectives
  • Critique of assumptions
  • Collaboration

Every reflective service-learning experience is not expected to address every goal in each category. Instead, in designing reflective service-learning courses or preparing for co-curricular service experiences, faculty and/or students will identify a subset of the above learning goals. These goals will be addressed in reflection assignments, which will ultimately form the service-learning portfolio.

Online Resources

The following online resources offer valuable tools to assist in the development of a service-learning course:

Campus Compact

Campus Compact provides a database of syllabi contributed by service-learning practitioners in higher education. Browse syllabi by discipline for service-learning project ideas, examples of course structures, or relevant texts to incorporate into your course.

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse offers a search engine to locate syllabi. Filter hundreds of service-learning syllabi by sector, area of service, demographics, or theory and practice.

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health maintains a growing collection of syllabi and course materials for a variety of health related disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, and sociology. On the homepage, click on the service-learning link. On next page select discipline-specific resources, including syllabi, to search service-learning syllabi by discipline.

Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning is a peer-reviewed journal with submissions written by faculty and service-learning educators for the service-learning community.

Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Community Engagement

Partnerships: A Journal of Service Learning and Community Engagement is a peer-reviewed journal specializing in articles relating to the importance of partnerships among students, faculty, administrators, community agencies, and more as they relate to service-learning.

Community Works Institute

Community Works Institute publishes a free journal three times a year focused on community engagement within education.

Compact Current

Campus Compact publishes a free quarterly newsletter called Compact Current for organizations and higher education institutions with articles relevant to service-learning.

National Youth Leadership Council

The National Youth Leadership Council offers free subscription to a monthly electronic newsletter for service-learning practitioners.

Journal for Civic Commitment

Journal for Civic Commitment is a bi-annual online journal that provides research-based and practical information to the service-learning community.

Documents and Forms

SL Student Survey Pre-test and Post-test: The service-learning pre and post tests were developed by consultant Pamela Steinke to measure the impact of reflective service-learning courses on students.

Form W-9: Use this form if an honorarium is offered to a guest speaker from a partnering organization. The W-9 must be completed by the speaker and submitted to the Business Office in order to receive payment.


The following articles on reflection, service learning, pedagogical theory, and community partnerships may be useful resources for course development, or may be used as assigned reading for students.

Notes from the Field

Servant Leaders blog
Service-Learning Interns blog
The service-learning student interns are increasing service involvement at Eckerd, becoming successful service leaders and helping students create a community around the values and challenges of servant-leadership.

Service Learning Profiles

Alumni Profiles

Read individual profiles of how involvement with Eckerd Service Learning changed the lives of current students and alumni.  Learn more.