“Being introduced to service-learning made​ all the difference in the world to me.  I thought I was going to college just to get a better job, but the projects I participated in made the information in my textbooks come to life…it gave a more fulfilling sense of purpose to my education and a deeper understanding of the world around me.  I am now fully aware of the power I have to help make a difference in the world through my education.” - CMU Student reflection


Service-Learning is a teaching method that combines classroom learning and active learning to provide students with real-world experience and opportunities to connect those experiences with course topics through reflection and discussion. Students will often work together to solve problems or provide a needed service to the community using concepts from their coursework. Whether it’s an information technology course where students create a training program for a nonprofit agency, a secondary education course where students help adolescents make the transition to middle school or a sociology course examining community trends, service-learning provides reciprocal benefits to everyone involved.

Teams of students will work with a subject-matter expert and front-line professionals to develop realistic goals, objectives, assessments, evaluation tools and design the activities for learning. In this win-win situation students have learned their course content in a much more meaningful way and the community has been improved.

Service-Learning combines social learni​ng, active learning, experiential learning and problem-based learning to provide students with a deeper understanding of course concepts and their potential applications.

Current CMU Service-Learning Courses

The classes listed below have at least one section that has been officially designated Service-Learning (SL) by the Committee on Academic Service-Learning (CASL). If you are looking for an opportunity to apply course concepts through meaningful service then these courses are worth a look.

Just look for the “SL” next to these classes in the course-offering guide during registration and enroll. 

​​CMU Service-Lea​rning Designated Courses ​
​MSA 603​Strategic Planning for Administrators
​MSA 604​Administration, Globalization and Multiculturalism
​MTH 261​Algebra for Secondary Teachers
​LDR 110​Personal Leadership and Service
LDR 120​​Introduction to Service Leadership
​SPE 500​Parent and Special Relationships in Special Education
​PES 602​Event Management: Theory and Application
​BCA 342​Field Audio Production
​ART 366​Contemporary Issues in Design
​HDF 248​Service-Learning in Gerontology
​SPE 519​Students with Cognitive Impairment
​ENG 201​Intermediate Composition
​IND 333​Interior Design Service-Learning
​RPL 333​Production of Festivals and Events
​RPL 430​Planning Recreation Programs and Events
​RPL 431​Planning Community Recreation and Events
​ENG 571​Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages: Materials, Assessment and Curriculum
​ENG 574​Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Service-Learning​ Course Designation: Criteria & Protocol

​CMU has existing policies and procedures in place to ​ensure that every Service-Learning designated course provides exceptional qual​ity to both students and the community partners. If you are interested in having your course designated as a Service-Learning course, please use the following application form, which includes CMU's current criteria and protocols, to get started.

Working with Service-Learning Partners in the Community: CMU Service-Learning Affiliation Agreement form

Video Spotlight

Transitions Camp
TEPD faculty Norma Bailey heads up the week-long transitions camp at a local middle school where CMU students work directly with students transition​ing from 6th to 7th grade. Listen to the CMU students discuss the impact they had on the middle school students and how this experience has helped them.​​

Additional Academic Service-Learning Resources

Other great resources to learn more about Service-Learning include:

10 Principles to Practice in Academic Service-Learning

  1. Students earn academic credit for academic learning, not service. Courses with a service-learning component are no different than courses without one in terms of grading students on what they have learned and the academic quality of their work. The service learning component simply provides another avenue for learning specifically in the application of course concepts to “real world” issues and problems.
  2. Service-Learning should not compromise academic rigor. When done right service-learning will actually enhance the course rigor since students will need to learn in the class and apply what they are learning in their service-learning experience.
  3. Set learning goals for students. The use of the community as a new context for learning increases the number of learning paradigms and possible topics to be explored for a given class. Sorting out those of the greatest priority and application to the course requires setting specific learning goals for students.
  4. Establish criteria when selecting places for students to provide service All service-learning courses should at a minimum meet the following criteria:
  • The range of possible service sites/projects should be set by the ability to relate to course content.
  • The time spent on the service project must be enough to fulfill learning goals.
  • The activities and service contexts must have the potential to stimulate course-relevant learning.
  1. ​​Assignments and formats should facilitate learning before and after the service project The service experience in and of itself does not qualify for academic learning, students must be equipped to get the most from their experience before and after the service project. Presentations, journaling, discussions, research and assignments that provide a venue for analysis and reflection of the project are essential.
  2. Provide support for students to learn how to learn from the community Students are generally under-prepared to learn from the community and assimilate these lessons with course learning since the paradigms for learning in the classroom and in the “real world” have generally been thought of in separate ways…until now.
  3. Minimize the distinction between the students role as a classroom learner versus a community learner Classroom learning typically provides students with a high level of learning direction while community learning does not. These differences generally require students to assume different roles for learning, specifically as a follower in the classroom and a leader in the community. Instructors should attempt to provide students with the necessary consistency they will need to diminish the need for a different role in the new community learning context by empowering a site teacher/supervisor for the students to learn and take direction from.
  4. Think differently about the Faculty Instructional Role The new and unfamiliar challenges students will face in service-learning projects require a shift from the traditional methods of transmitting information to learning facilitation and guidance as students will individually take different things from the project. The instructor should facilitate the sharing of information and experiences among classmates and guide what is learned into the context of the course objectives.
  5. Prepare for varied student learning outcomes Since students will be taking different things from any given service-learning project the instructor must prepare to for less predictable student learning outcomes by being flexible in classroom discussions and assessment methods.
  6. Design course to maximize learning​ from the community as a community of learners A main objective for community service-learning courses is to cultivate a sense of community and social responsibility. Course design should reflect this by encouraging students to​ share what they have learned with the rest of the class by structuring assignments with this component. Adapted from Howard, Jeffery, PRAXIS I: A Faculty Casebook on Service-Learning (OCSL Press: A​nn Arbor, 1993)​

Committee on Academic Service-Learning (CASL)

In September 2010 the Academic Senate approved the creation of the Committee on Academic Service-Learning. This new committee will work to provide, “a more comprehensive, programmatic structure and mission for Academic Service-Learning at CMU.” The committee will serve in an advisory capacity to the campus community by actively supporting and encouraging the use of service-learning. In addition, the committee will work to improve the communication, coordination, accountability, data collection and working relationships with regards to service-learning here at CMU and within the greater community.

Membership :: 16 Members (2 ex officio), including 7 faculty members (1 per college), CBA, CCFA, CEHS, CHSBS, CHP, CST, College of Graduate Studies, CMU Volunteer Center, FYE, Risk Management, Students (2), Community Representatives, Director of the Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching, ex officio and non-voting, Campus Service-Learning Coordinator, ex officio and non-voting. For more information on the CASL please review the committee charge or contact the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at (989) 774-3615. ​

Current Membership

  • Sean Goffnet, Chair - (MHSA) CBA - 2016​
  • Ren Chunbo, (JRN), CFA - 2016
  • Lori Irwin, (RPL) CEHS
  • Thomas Greitens, (PSC), CHSBS - 2016
  • Vacancy, (CHP)
  • ​Carl Lee, (MTH), CST - 2017
  • Tiffany Smrtnik - 2015
  • Student Vacancy - 2015
  • Thomas Greitens, (PSC), CHSBS - 2016
  • Vacancy, Graduate Studies
  • Shawna Ross, Volunteer Center
  • Janice Trionfi, Risk Management
  • Vacancy, Community Representative
  • Vacancy, Community Representative​
  • Diane Marble, Interim Director, ​Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning​, ex officio and non-voting
  • ​Travus Burton, (Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning), Coordinator of Academic Service-Learning), ex officio and non-voting

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