University of Vermont

Office of Community-Engaged Learning (CELO)

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CUPS works to create a community of practice among UVM faculty built on the high-impact practice of service-learning. Roughly 100 courses are designated "SL" every year, and may include everything from introductory-level projects offering initial exposure to communuity engagement to full-year capstone courses that launch students into life after UVM. Regardless of your previous experience with service-learning or the level at which you teach, CUPS can provide support to you and your students.

Our Faculty Fellows for Service-Learning program has trained more than 200 faculty from every school/college in SL practice and pedagogy, and we convene groups of faculty and staff around specific issue areas to develop new and interrelated opportunities for UVM students to engage with the community as part of their academic experience.

Read on to learn more about in-course supports, faculty development opportunities, and other resources available to faculty at John Dewey's alma mater, the spiritual home of community-engaged teachinng and learning.

Why Use Service-Learning Pedagogy?

UVM faculty choose a service-learning pedagogy in courses for many reasons, including – but not limited to – providing applied or integrative opportunities for students, contributing the skills of their discipline to social change efforts or for the public good, connecting research and community engagement through teaching, and connecting students with places, people or institutions to deepen their learning or capacity to act as engaged citizens and community members. CUPS assists faculty in developing the service-learning components of their courses, in line with their intended learning and community-engaged goals.

SL Course Designation

Click here to designate your service-learning course.

Designating a course as “SL” in the Schedule of Courses conveys to students that there is an experiential component to the course; in some departments this fulfills a graduation requirement. Designation also ensures that our institutional data about student learning experiences is accurate. And importantly, designating courses allows CUPS to track and reach out to community partners, ensuring open communication and opportunities for feedback, resource-sharing, and future project development.

The official designation criteria – approved by the Faculty Senate in 2009 – are found below.

SL Course Designation Criteria

The University of Vermont follows a pedagogical model of service-learning, rather than an “hours of service” model. This means that service-learning is defined by academic rigor and reciprocity, rather than by counting hours. Courses qualify for designation when the service-learning is constructed so as to deepen student learning while benefitting a community partner, regardless of the scale, scope or duration of the project or service.

A course may be designated SL when:

  1. It is a credit-bearing course (graduate or undergraduate).
  2. It requires an integration of service/experiential components and academic course content so that each significantly informs and enhances the other.
  3. There are planned benefits for both the community partner and the students. The service addresses a need and follows processes that are mutually agreed upon by the partner and the instructor.
  4. Student assessment and academic credit are based upon the demonstration of student learning, not on the service hours. Critical reflection (see below) is part of the assessment process.
  5. It actively guides and supports students in critical reflection: the integration of the service/experiential component with the academic course content.


Last modified November 01 2019 02:53 PM