SL/CE Instructor Resources

At the University of South Carolina Upstate, Service-Learning is defined as teaching and learning that blends service with credit-bearing courses, derives from a need in the community, defined by a community partner, founded on disciplinary content, and incorporating deep reflection. 

On this page you will find a wide variety of helpful information, but we are also happy to meet with you personally. If you are new to Service Learning and would like to know more, are currently modifying a syllabus to incorporate Service Learning, need help identifying community partners, would like to share your success story, or would just like to talk, please email to schedule a chat! 

Looking for a particular item or topic? See our A-Z Index

 Service Learning, Scholarships, Teaching

SL/CE News & Updates

  • SL/CE Stories and Events

    There's always something amazing happening in SL/CE at Upstate. Check them on on our SL/CE UP-dates blog: Service Stories

    Stories here should change a couple of times per semester. 

  • Reflection is pivotal to meaningful SL/CE experiences

    Research suggests doing enagement work without deep reflection may due more harm that good by reinforcing existing stereotypes and preconceptions. Reflection should be: 

    - before, during, and after the engagement activity

    - to course or other content beyond the participant's lived experience
    - connections should be clearly articulated, not left to participant to discover on their own 

    - with real-world issues, again beyond the participant's usual experience

    -  seeking to move the participant to new perspectives and insights 

    - with leading questions and affirmative, personalized feedback that encourages the participant to take the next step.

    See also resources on reflection models and tools!  

  • Complementing the Servuce Learning and Service Engagement, we have added Community Engagement as a formal course designation. Formal designations appear in the course title in the Course Schedule and on student transcripts for courses, making this a potential job search tool for students as well as a transformative experience. . 

    Offerings that involve active engagement in the community (without service) where that engagement is expected to supplement and reinforce learning, (with a minimum of 4 community contact hours) may qualify for the CE course certification.

  • New Community Engagement Tracking System: Collaboratory

    Seeking to better understand our combined institutional and individual efforts in our geographic region and beyond, USC Upstate has invested in Collaboratory, a community engagement data tracking system designed to empower higher education institutions to document and understand the full scope of their community engagement and public service activities as a step toward improving practice and enhance connections with the community. Collaboratory also makes this data publicly searchable. 

    For any data tracking system to be effective, it needs humans to provide information. We ask you to please help us populate this database so we can better serve our community and celebrate the great work you are doing!

Key Resources

  • We are delighted to offer training both live and as self-guided modules on Blackboard.

    Each semester we offer two training sessions. Topics and dates appear on the CAIFS calendar and will be communicated in email as well. 

    Find self-guided modules on Blackboard by searching for SLCE (no slash). More modules are under development and will be published as they are completed.

  • Service Learning: 

    A method of teaching and learning that integrates student participation in organized service activities ­­into credit-bearing courses, including: community identified need, discipline-based instruction, and reflection.

    Community Engaged Learning:

    Community-engaged learning follows the pattern without taking action to address an area of need.

    Formal Course Designations: 

    We offer 3 distinct formal course designations recognizing SL/CE efforts: Community Engagement, Service Engagement, and Service Learning. Check out our CE vs SE vs SL page that highlights expectations for great SL/CE teaching that doesn't qualify for a formal designation as well as CE, SE, and SL designatable courses. Explanations and examples are provided.

    Venn diagram showing need on Service side and connection on Community side


  • Service Learning - Formal Definition:

    Service learning at USC Upstate is defined as a method of teaching and learning that integrates student participation in organized service activities into credit-bearing courses. By collaboratively addressing identified community needs with a community partner, the service experience enhances student learning by providing an opportunity to observe, test and apply discipline-based theories, concepts and skills. The academic context enriches the service experience by raising questions about real world issues and by providing a forum to reflect upon them. Further, service learning is a mechanism to achieve a broader appreciation of the discipline, to sharpen problem solving skills and to develop an enhanced sense of civic responsibility 

    (Approved by Faculty Senate, 02/20/2015) 

  • Definition of Community Engagement

    Community engagement describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources to address critical community issues in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

    The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

    <Approved by the Community Engagement Core Team, Spring 2021>

  • Click the button below to see Frequently Asked Questions

    Service FAQ

    If you have questions of your own or would like to suggest an FAQ, please email

  • COVID-19 Service Learning Statement

    The Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement appreciates the many challenges face by our community partners, students, and instructors during this time of response to the coronavirus. We seek to continue to serve through the challenges that exist and encourage faculty and community partners to collaboratively explore virtual service experiences wherever possible.

    Physical service should be engaged only when virtual service will not meet academic and community needs and must be approved by Mary Bucher, Director of Health Services.

    Questions regarding risks and precautions to take at any particular site should be directed to Mary at

    Considering moving to e-service? Check out our e-SL/CE page & e-Service Opportunities page. Please contact us at to discuss this or any other concerns! 

Celebrating Service- Awards

Service Learning is a high‐impact college experience and part of our university's Up initiative. To recognize outstanding efforts by our members of our USC Upstate community, each year the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost, offers several awards each year to students, faculty, and staff who demonstrate superior commitment to Service Learning and Community Engagement.

More information and application

Past Programs

Service Learning Celebration Program 2019

Service Learning Celebration Program 2018  PDF Document Download

Celebrating Service- Stories

Upstate faculty, staff, and students are doing great things in our community, partnering with a wide variety of organizations, and learning important lessons about their content areas, career readiness, and life in Upstate South Carolina.

We're building a library of stories. Check it out by clicking the button below!  

Serivice Stories

Definitions and Examples

There are many overlapping terms relating to our efforts to make positive contributions to our community. Service pervades many of them, and so we offer these definitions both to encourage a wide variety of community engagement efforts and to clearly define "Service Learning" as distinct from these other great endeavors.

Definitions and Examples

 (Also see the outwardly focused Community Engagement @ Upstate page) 

Course Support Funds

Each academic year, the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement has a limited amount of funds to support Service related expenses in designated courses. Trips and projects without an associated course are ineligible.

Awards will be contingent on the quality of application, availability of funds, and diverse dispersion of funds across instructional units; therefore, some applications may not be funded, or may be partially funded.

Support Funds Overview & Application

Developing & Certifying a Course

The construction of a Service course is complex with details of Community and curricular needs, various approaches to reflection, etc. 

To guide interested teachers through exploring these concepts, we offer a course development aid.

Developing a Course

And you are ready to apply for Certification of a Service course, do a final check using this page: 

Certifying a Course


In seeking to respond to the enforced social-isolation of COVID-19 in Spring of 2020, we found room for creativity and expansion, reaching out to populations both on and off campus with opportunities to connect and collaborate. 

Taking SL/CE (pronounced "slice") to virtual environments can provide deliberate, real world experience, and networking opprotunities, transforming a potentially isolating format into on rich in both context and connection. 

Visit our e-SL/CE page for more information


Or click below to jump directly to an annotated list of e-service offerings. 

Virtual Service Opportunities


Service Learning (SL)

The original designation – based on our peers and aspirants in the university-based Service domain. Certified courses will have "Service Learning" in the course title on the Course Schedule and on students' transcripts.

  • ≥15 hours of service/student with an identified community partner (preparation + contact time + follow-up)
  • ≥ 30% of course grade based on service (performance, reflection, etc.)
  • ≤ 7% of the service (1 of 15 hours) = administrative (filing, mailing, etc.)
  • Survey-based program assessment (Do it yourself & encourage students & community partners to participate)
  • Guided reflection connecting service experience and course content
  • Identified need evolved with community partner
  • Adhere to of the Service Learning SLOs
  • Complete Hours Served report

Service Engagement (SE)

Added to recognize and celebrate the broad spectrum of Service opportunities at Upstate. Certified courses will be tracked through attibutues to enable awards and congratulations, but course titles in the Course Schedule and on students' transcripts will be unaffected.

  • At least 4 hours of active service to the community per semester for each student 
  • Adherence to the community collaboration element of the Faculty Senate's Definition of Service Learning
  • Survey-based program assessment (Do it yourself & encourage students & community partners to participate)
  • Adherence to 2 of the Service Learning SLOs
  • Basic reflection tying service to course concepts
  • Complete Hours Served report

Course Designation Overview 

Forms & Templates

As Service Learning and Community expands at Upstate. we seek continuous improvement in all areas, including those oft-maligned, but nevertheless important forms. The button below holds links to our latest list of forms and templates. If you find a broken link or would like to suggest a new form or template, please email Service Learning

Forms & Templates

Resources & Readings

Key Resources 

Sample Syllabi

Visit the Campus Compact website for examples of syllabi by discipline.

Other Service Learning Resources

Suggested Readings

SL/CE is HIP (High Impact Practice)

In 2008, George Kuh identified eleven institutional instructional programs that benefit a wide variety of students. Service learning and community based-learning are on his list, but the purpose of this page is to look at what makes SL/CE HIP.

Extending the discourse on HIPs, Kuh, O'Donnell, and Reed (2013) detail key characteristics that engender HIP results: 

  • Guided reflection
  • Experiences with diversity
  • Investment of time and effort
  • Work on real-world applications
  • Substantive interactions with faculty and peers
  • Frequent, timely and constructive feedback
  • Public dissemination of completed work

These elements shine in skillfully implemented SL/CE courses.

Many courses at Upstate are HIP. Check out our HIP infographic: 

HIP to High Impact Practices

Student Learning Outcomes

In order to promote best high-impact practices and create rigorous, career-relevant, accessible, and transformative service opportunities, USC Upstate has adopted the eight requisite career competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). All Service designated courses will share a common assessment based on instructor-selected SLOs. 

Visit our Service SLOs Resources 

Student Service Travel Scholarships- Faculty Overview

Doing service in unfamiliar communities has the potential to exponentialize the transformational experience in Service Learning. We are, therefore, delighted to support students traveling on formal Service trips (both international and domestic) which are associated with your officially designated Service Learning and Service Engagement courses. Students may find details and an application form on the a page of their own. 

Visit Service Travel Scholarships

Here is a matrix defining amounts awarded to successful applicants: 


 Service Learning 

 Service Engagement 

 Service Abroad  



  Service Away



If your trip is associated with a course that is already designated as Service, please email with the course number, the date, and the desitination of your trip, and we will add it to our list. 

If you have not yet officially sought a Service designation, please complete the appropriate Course Designation form.  

"Service-Away" supports the following domestic travel: 
  • at least 10 hours of Service (even for "Service Engagement" courses)  
  • at least 100 miles away from campus 
  • at least 2 overnight stays

At this point, the OSLCE offers no funds directly supporting faculty travel expenses.