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Service-Learning Guidebook

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All candidates for the baccalaureate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire must satisfactorily complete 30 or more hours of approved service-learning activity. This requirement is intended to provide students with an opportunity to serve their community, apply knowledge gained in the classroom, enhance their critical thinking skills and become informed, active, responsible and ethical citizens.

This guidebook outlines the UW-Eau Claire service-learning graduation requirement and describes the procedures for its completion. This information is provided to assist students, faculty/staff members and community project supervisors in designing and undertaking projects that provide both rich experiences for UW-Eau Claire students and substantial benefits for the community.

The Service-Learning Requirement

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire established the service-learning graduation requirement in 1995. The following University policy statement describes the service-learning mission, goals and objectives, and guidelines:

Service-Learning Mission Statement

February 25, 2005

As a public liberal-arts university, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire commits to educating students for full participation in society. One essential aspect of full participation is public service. Our Service-Learning requirement fosters habits of public engagement in our students and encourages them to serve society.

At UW-Eau Claire, Service-Learning includes both service and learning to promote the common good.

Service-Learning is service because it must benefit others. Service-Learning can make education a collaborative effort where students benefit society by exercising both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Service-Learning is learning because it must educate students. It challenges them to apply concepts and principles they have learned in their college coursework to their other experiences—and to apply experiential insights critically and creatively to their college learning. Service-Learning also fosters academic and personal growth.

Service-Learning is an important part of an undergraduate liberal arts experience that prepares students for a life of informed, ethical, responsible and active citizenship.

Mission Statement
Text Goals
  • Educate students for full participation in society
  • Perform public service
  • Foster habits of public engagement
  • Encourage service of society
Foster habits of community engagement in each UW-Eau Claire student.
1. Each student will contribute at least 30 hours of service-learning.
  • Promote the common good
  • Benefit others
Each UW-Eau Claire student will promote the common good.
2. Each service-learning project will address a need within a community.
  •  Make education a collaborative effort
Each UW-Eau Claire student will collaborate in responsibly serving society.
3. Each service-learning project will involve collaboration among the student, the mentor, and a community partner.
  • Exercise both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship
Each UW-Eau Claire student will demonstrate civic engagement.
4. In the service-learning report, each student will identify how the experience developed skills, attitudes, and abilities appropriate to citizenship in a democratic society.
  • Educate students
  • Challenge students
Each UW-Eau Claire student will self-learn something significant in a service environment.
5. Each service-learning project proposal will contain a rationale for significant learning.
6. Each service-learning project will be reported to a UW-Eau Claire mentor.
7. Each service-learning project report will contain evidence of independent learning.
  • Apply concepts and principles from college course work to their other experiences
  • Apply experiential insights critically and creatively to their college learning
  • Foster academic growth
Each UW-Eau Claire student will integrate college coursework and service-learning experiences to synthesize new insights into the nature and value of his/her academic education.
8. Each service-learning project will explain how the project relates directly to either
     a) the students major or minor area of study or
     b) one or more goals of the baccalaureate.
  • Foster personal growth
Each UW-Eau Claire student will reflect on the personal value of their service.
9. In the service-learning project report, each student will reflect on his/her personal growth.
  • Prepare for a life of informed, active citizenship
Service-Learning will encourage each UW-Eau Claire student to continue informed, active citizenship throughout his/her life.
10. Each service-learning project will include a reflection on life-long learning and public service.


Guidelines for Service-Learning Projects

Derived from the mission, goals and objectives of the service-learning program, the following policy statements provide general guidance to all parties as they plan together for a service-learning project.

STUDENT CHOICE Students’ sincerely held beliefs, preferences and values will be reasonably accommodated in accepting service-learning proposals.

NONDISCRIMINATION Consistent with accepted interpretation of affirmative action policies of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, service-learning proposals will not be accepted that exclude students, mentors and/or recipients from the service-learning activity based on race, religion, creed, color, sex, gender identity or expression, ancestry, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, veteran’s status, pregnancy, marital or parental status, military service, arrest and conviction record or political affiliation or any other category protected by law, including physical condition or developmental disability as defined in Wisconsin Statutes §51.01(5). Other sources include Wisconsin Statutes §36-12(1) and UW Regents Policy 14-6.

WILLING RECIPIENTS To be accepted, service-learning proposals must focus on willing recipients.

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY Service-Learning proposals involving cooperation with faith-based organizations may be accepted; however, this public university will not award credit for time spent directly involved in promoting religious doctrine, proselytizing, or worship. Students who wish to work with a faith-based organization are encouraged to consult the Center for Service-Learning in developing their proposals.

FOR-PROFIT ACTIVITY Service-learning proposals involving for-profit agencies may be accepted if they are part of an agency’s charitable activities. Service-learning proposals that focus on seeking private monetary profit will not be accepted.

NONENDORSEMENT Acceptance of a service-learning proposal indicates that the proposal is accepted for meeting the service-learning requirement; it does not imply endorsement either of the proposed activities or of the recipient by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. 

PRE-ENROLLMENT EXPERIENCES Service-learning activities may be completed at any time between admission and graduation from UW-Eau Claire, although students with the support of the academic adviser may petition the Dean’s Office of the School/College in which they are enrolled to use pre-enrollment experiences in partial fulfillment of the requirement.

SECOND BACCALAUREATE DEGREE STUDENTS University policy presumes that candidates for the second baccalaureate degree have met the service-learning graduation requirement.

TRANSFER STUDENTS may petition the Dean’s Office of the UW-Eau Claire School/College in which they are enrolled to accept service-learning experiences from another postsecondary institution as either partially or completely fulfilling the UW-Eau Claire graduation requirement.

MILITARY SERVICE Students in active military service or with an honorable or general discharge from military service are presumed to have met the service-learning graduation requirement. Evidence of military service is provided to the Registrar's Office through a copy of a D.D. 214.

Fulfilling the Service-Learning Requirement

Students can meet the service-learning requirement in two ways: (1) through academic courses with service-learning project components (the Credit Option), or (2) through non-course activities conducted through the Center for Service-Learning (the Non-Credit Option). Students may pursue both options in combination to fulfill the graduation requirement if permitted by requirements set for individual academic majors.


The UW-Eau Claire offers more than 120 courses with service-learning components approved by college curriculum committees as fulfilling either one-half (15 hours) or the full (30 hours) graduation requirement. Some courses are required for particular academic majors, whereas, others may be taken as electives.


The following academic majors require specific course work, internships, practica or other activities (credit or non-credit) that fulfill the service-learning requirement:

  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Elementary Education
  • Environmental Public Health
  • Health Care Administration
  • Kinesiology (except Movement Science)
  • Nursing
  • Secondary Education
  • Social Work
  • Special Education

Upon the student’s successful completion of the course or activity, the course instructor or activity administrator will certify to the Registrar that the student has fulfilled the service-learning requirement. Students should consult with their adviser for more information.


A student, whose academic major does not require completion of a specific service-learning course or activity, may choose an elective course with a service-learning component. In some courses the service-learning component is a required activity; in others it is optional. Further, in some courses the activity meets the full requirement (30 hours); in others, it meets half the requirement (15 hours). The instructor of the course administers the service-learning requirement for students enrolled in the course. Upon the student’s successful completion of the course and the associated service-learning activity, the course instructor will certify to the Registrar that the student has fulfilled either half or the full service-learning requirement.


Several courses contain activity components approved by college curriculum committees that can apply toward the service-learning requirement. Some courses are required for the majors listed above, whereas, others are for elective credit. The list of courses indicates whether the component satisfies one-half (15 hours) or the full (30 hours) service-learning requirement. The course catalog can be found at this link:

The non-credit option affords the student an opportunity to fulfill the service-learning requirement outside of an academic course setting. Students do not receive academic credit for the experience, although a non-credit activity could be conducted in association with a course with the approval of the course instructor. To fulfill the requirement under this option, students are to work with the Center for Service-Learning. Upon the student’s successful completion of the service-learning activity, the Center shall certify to the Registrar that the student has fulfilled either half (15 clock-hours) or the full (30 clock-hours) service-learning requirement.

Students are to take the following steps to successfully pursue the service-learning requirement through the non-credit option:


Students can create their own projects or respond to projects submitted by a community partner to the Center for Service-Learning. They may complete projects individually or with others, with an on-campus group or off-campus community organization, in the Eau Claire area or elsewhere, and during the academic year or over break periods. Whether devised by students or a community partner, projects must comply with the provisions of the Service-Learning Requirement mission statement, goals and objectives.


A number of community agencies and organizations (including non-profit organizations, elementary and secondary schools, and faith communities) in the Chippewa Valley and elsewhere have worked with the Center for Service-Learning to establish student projects that meet the service-learning requirement. A community partner submits a project proposal to the Center for Service-Learning describing the requested student activity. (Project proposal guidelines and forms are available at the Center and the Center’s website. Community partners can submit project proposals online.) Upon receiving the project proposal, the Center will notify department chairpersons of project availability through e-mail. Students are notified through project announcements on the Center’s Web site, at the Center, in the Davies Center, near 222C, and near Campus School 119.

Students wishing to respond to a service-learning project offered by a community partner should contact the partner to find out more information about the project and/or to make project arrangements. If the student wishes to pursue the project, s/he then is to prepare and submit a service-learning agreement form (described below), available at the Center and on the Center’s website.


Students wishing to develop a service-learning project on their own are to contact a potential community partner willing to work with them. In this instance, the community partner need not submit a project proposal. If the partner agrees to work with the student, the student is to develop and submit an online service-learning agreement form.

For either type of project, the student works with a project supervisor from the community partner organization and a faculty/academic staff mentor to organize, conduct and complete a service-learning project. The project supervisor conducts the necessary training activities for the student, regularly oversees the student’s service activity, and evaluates the student’s involvement upon the conclusion of the project. The primary roles of the faculty/academic staff mentor are to help the student establish learning objectives, monitor the student’s service activities, facilitate the student’s reflection upon completion of the project, and certify whether the student has successfully completed the project. The choice of the faculty/academic staff mentor rests with the student.

Students are discouraged from selecting a family member or close friend to serve as the project supervisor or faculty mentor. A student is not to serve as a project supervisor for a fellow student.


Students fulfill the service-learning requirement by completing either one, 30-hour project, or two, 15-hour projects. In some circumstances, the community partner may determine that a student commitment of more than 30 hours is necessary to fulfill project needs. If the partner requests a longer commitment from the student, the partner and the student should agree to the time requirement before the student begins the project.


A student may conduct a project individually or with other students. Community partners requesting a group project are asked to estimate the number of persons needed. Each student—whether conducting an individual project or participating in a group activity—must complete and submit a service-learning agreement form.


Projects may meet a one-time need (such as developing a website for a community organization) or be part of an organization’s continuing activity (such as ongoing recreational services for senior citizens).


Students may be paid for service-learning projects or may participate as volunteers.


Service-learning projects are typically conducted with non-profit or governmental organizations. Projects may be conducted with for-profit organizations, as long as the project is not directly related to the profit-making activities of the firm. Examples of acceptable projects with a for-profit organization are fund-raisers for community needs sponsored by that organization (such as a golf tournament for a charitable cause) or the firm’s pro bono services (such as an accounting firm that offers free income tax assistance to low-income persons).


The student is to plan and make arrangements for project activities in consultation with the faculty/academic staff mentor and the community partner project supervisor. Each student—whether participating alone or with others— must complete the online service-learning agreement form with online approval from the Community Partner Project Supervisor, the Faculty/Academic Staff Mentor and the Director of Service-Learning. The student is to submit the fully completed online agreement form to the Center before beginning the project at Upon receiving and reviewing the student’s online Service-Learning Agreement form, the Center for Service-Learning will send an e-mail to the student indicating project approval.

The project description contained within the agreement form is to contain the following information:


A description of the community needs to be addressed through the proposed project and what the student will do to meet the needs.

  • A description of what the student expects to learn from the proposed project.
  • A description of how this project applies and relates to the subject matter of a course, to the student’s major or minor, or to the goals of the baccalaureate degree.
  • A description of how the proposed service recipients will be involved in the planning, conduct, evaluation and reflection of the service.
  • A description of the orientation, training and supervision the student will receive for this project.
  • A description of how the proposed service activity will help the student develop or enhance his/her sense of civic/social responsibility.
  • A description of the method that the student will use to reflect upon the service activity—examples include maintaining a journal, writing a reaction paper, participating in a group discussion and giving an oral presentation.
  • A description of the method that the faculty/academic staff mentor will use to assess what the student has learned from the service activity.

The faculty/academic staff mentor and/or community partner may wish the student to engage in specific preparation before beginning the project through training, readings, research or other activities beneficial to the project (such as Red Cross Certification in water safety or cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Preparation and training activities may account for part of the project hours, although a substantive part of the 15 or 30 hours must be devoted to the project itself.

Depending on the nature of the project and/or the persons to be served, the community partner may request a background check of the student. Costs for this and certifications described above are borne either by the student or the community partner.


Working with the project supervisor, the student conducts the project. The student is encouraged to meet with the faculty/academic staff mentor periodically to discuss and assess project activities and gauge progress.


Upon completing the project, the student arranges to meet with the faculty/academic staff mentor to conduct the reflection activities. A common method of reflection is the student’s preparation of a journal and reflection paper, followed by a discussion with the mentor. If approved by the mentor, other means of reflection are acceptable. The most significant learning often occurs during this reflection phase. Students are encouraged to think about the following questions (among others):

  • What was the significance of your service at the agency/organization?
  • What did you learn about the agency/organization staff, those persons served by the agency/organization and their similarities or differences to you?
  • What did you learn during your project that enhanced your learning gained in the classroom?
  • What impact might your project have on your life-long learning process?
  • What impact did your project have on your everyday life?
  • What insights did you gain through your project that might assist you in your career or in selecting a career?
  • What did your project teach you about community involvement, citizenship and civic responsibility?
  • What is the relationship of your service-learning project to the “real world”?
  • How were you able to contribute to the agency/organization goals?
  • What do you feel was your main contribution to the agency/organization?
  • What did you do on this project that made you feel proud?
  • What was the most difficult part of your work?
  • If you were to start at the beginning of this project again, what would you do differently the second time around?


Shortly before the student ends his/her service-learning project, the Center will request the project supervisor to evaluate the student’s service activity. Upon receiving the completed online evaluation, students and faculty/academic staff mentors can review the evaluations as well by logging in to the Center’s online system.

The Center will also send an e-mail reminder to faculty/academic staff to log into the Center’s system to certify whether the student successfully completed the project. A project is not considered complete until the student has fulfilled the reflection activity with the mentor. Upon receiving online confirmation from the mentor that the student has successfully completed his/her service-learning project, the Center will contact the Registrar to certify the student’s completion of either one-half or the full service-learning requirement. This certification will be entered on the student’s University record. The Center will also send an e-mail to the student indicating project completion. If the faculty/staff mentor determines that the student did not satisfactorily complete the service-learning project, the project will be regarded as “unsuccessful” and will not apply toward the student’s service-learning requirement.

Examples of Service-Learning Activities

Students can participate in a variety of activities that apply a wide range of skills. Some may wish to work on projects that either transcend or do not directly relate to a particular academic major. Examples of such projects might include:

  • Work with a faith-based organization on a public service project, a Habitat for Humanity project constructing housing for families with low incomes.
  • Organize/assist with voter registration.
  • Work with a neighborhood association.
  • Work with a public interest organization.
  • Work with a political campaign.
  • Assist with community events and projects such as museum activities, cultural awareness programs, fairs and festivals, Adopt-a-Highway, neighborhood clean-up/beautification days.
  • Serve as a mentor for a young person through Big Brothers Big Sisters, Scouting, 4-H or other youth organizations.
  • Help senior citizens with a variety of activities that enhance their quality of life.
  • Conduct a conservation project at a park, lakeshore or nature center.
  • Tutor elementary or secondary students in a variety of subjects, work with Literacy Volunteers of America, or serve as a “Reading Partner” to encourage youngsters to develop good reading habits.

Alternatively, students may choose to use skills and knowledge that directly relate to their course of study. Here are some project examples of possible interest to students majoring in the following fields:


Share accounting or finance skills with a non-profit organization, a religious congregation, a day-care center, or a homeless shelter; help a non-profit organization set up an accounting software package; present community workshops on personal accounting and money management; help a non-profit organization set up a budget and assist with developing a financial planning strategy.


Tutor or serve as a mentor to a Native American elementary or secondary student; work with a Native American community development or social services organization; help develop oral histories of Native American culture; make presentations to elementary students about Native American culture.


Work with an organization that does anthropological research; volunteer with an anthropological museum; make presentations at local schools on different cultural groups in the U.S. and throughout the world; work with immigrants to preserve their heritage.


Design brochures, annual reports, logos and other publications for a non-profit organization; teach art classes in community centers, senior centers, nursing homes or schools; serve as a docent with an art museum; visit local schools to promote appreciation for the arts; volunteer with a local arts council; create a neighborhood mural with area residents.


Perform an environmental study for a local government or community organization; conduct a conservation project in a recreation area or forest reserve; tutor secondary students in biology; serve as a judge for a science fair; present an interactive seminar for an elementary or secondary school class or club; organize a neighborhood beautification project; organize a community garden.


Help organizations develop training programs for volunteers; help agencies develop ways to supervise, monitor, and support their volunteer staff; help organizations with fund-raising activities; help a community organization develop presentations; work with a Junior Achievement group.


Test air, soil or water quality levels for a local government or community organization; tutor high school students in chemistry; organize or serve as a judge for elementary or secondary school science fairs; present an interactive seminar for an elementary or secondary school class or club.


Help a non-profit organization create a public awareness campaign; design logos or prepare reports, brochures or newsletters for a non-profit organization or community agency; help a local news organization design a weekly community service program; work with a public access television station on community issue programming; help children produce a program on a local cable channel; write for a newspaper or newsletter that focuses on public issues that concern you; help start a small-town community newspaper; help with a community newspaper produced by school children.


Help a non-profit organization or human services agency create and maintain a database; teach computer skills to children, senior citizens or the disabled; conduct a computer needs assessment for a non-profit organization; tutor primary or secondary students in computer science; design an educational game to be used in schools; develop a computer system to track Goodwill or Salvation Army inventories; create electronic forms to collect intake information at social services agencies; develop a strategic plan for information systems management for a nonprofit agency.


Stage performances in nursing homes, schools or hospitals; offer a class in a local community center; teach children cultural dances; assist with a dance therapy program.


Perform an economic study/analysis for a local government or community organization; work with a consumer protection organization; work with a public interest group; tutor high school students in economics; work with Junior Achievement programs.


Tutor elementary or secondary school students; organize book-readings and discussions in a school, nursing home, church or hospital; prepare reports, brochures or newsletters for a non-profit organization or community agency; get involved with Literacy Volunteers of America; read to or tape-record books people who are visually impaired; help community agencies write grant proposals.


Serve as an interpreter or translator for those learning English or other languages; teach English as a second language; hold language classes for community groups; assist with cultural awareness programs; translate social services brochures into the native language of recent immigrants.


Conduct community planning studies or provide geographic information systems (GIS) assistance to community groups or governmental agencies; present special units on geography at local schools; conduct an assessment study for a downtown revitalization project; assist with a local comprehensive planning process; work on assessment projects for natural resources agencies.


Present special units on geology at local schools; organize and conduct geologic field excursions for children, senior citizens or disabled persons; volunteer at a natural history museum or local nature center; prepare geology displays for a museum or park; conduct geologic studies for a local government or community group; work with an environmental action group; serve as a judge for a school science fair.


Help prepare oral histories with senior citizens; serve as a docent at a history museum; create and present innovative history units for elementary and secondary students; conduct historical studies for communities, local organizations or faith communities; assist with local historic preservation activities and projects.


Teach sport skills clinics in community centers; serve as a coach or referee for a youth sports league; serve as a counselor in a youth summer sports camp; teach aerobics, calisthenics or general fitness for hospitals, senior citizens centers, nursing homes or community organizations; help with Special Olympics.


Work on community development projects in Latin American countries or Hispanic neighborhoods in the U.S.; organize and conduct cultural awareness programs or festivals; organize units on Latin American studies or conduct special projects with elementary students.


Serve as a math tutor for elementary and secondary school students or students with special needs; serve as a teacher’s aide; work with a school math club or help with after-school programs.


Stage performances in schools and nursing homes; teach acting or music at a community center; perform or help with a non-profit organization, community theatre or musical group; provide music and theatre activities for after-school programs.


Volunteer with organizations that provide conflict resolution and mediation; organize a community service group; participate in Alternative Winter Break activities with the Ecumenical Religious Center; develop a website for a religious congregation; work with a consortium of religious organizations on a social issue.


Tutor high school students taking physics courses; serve as a judge in an elementary or secondary school science fair; lead an after-school astronomy or physics program; help out at a science museum or children’s learning center; volunteer at a community planetarium; organize a community star-gazing excursion.


Volunteer with political campaigns; work with public interest organizations or political watch groups; help the League of Women Voters present community programs; help a human rights organization; serve on a community board or advisory committee; work with a neighborhood organization; help with a voter-registration drive.


Volunteer at a crisis hotline; work with children in shelters, day-care centers, and schools; work with people who are mentally ill; work with families in transitional housing; volunteer in substance-abuse clinics, hospitals, and prevention centers; help non-profit organizations and social research agencies design statistical models to determine the needs of a special population.


Volunteer in shelters, hospitals or social service agencies; work with an organization that does social research; volunteer in transitional homes for youth; work at a detention center; make presentations at local schools on different cultural groups in the U.S. and throughout the world; work with immigrants to preserve their heritage.

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