Service Learning Courses

Background: A CSU audit of off-campus activities in 2009-10 requires SJSU to improve its risk management procedures in the administration of service learning (SL). Specifically, we are required to “monitor academic department compliance with SL policies, procedures, and best practices”.

Definition: Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich learning experiences, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.

The Center for Community Learning & Leadership utilizes SJS4 to capture service learning student placements, facilitate risk management processes required for curricular service learning, and list approved organization site information.  SJS4 is the San José State University instance of CalStateS4 (S4), a web application hosted by the Chancellor’s Office.

Faculty with courses that have SL designation will receive an email from CCLL prior to the beginning of the term regarding the inclusion of service-learning in course syllabi as well as the following processes.

Service-learning students must use SJS4 to:

  • Log their service-learning placement.
  • Complete the waiver of liability, learning plan and participation guidelines.
  • Provide emergency contact information.
  • Log final hours.

The Learning Plan is considered a service learning teaching tool and is most effective when used as a part of the course materials, and integrated into the discussions about the service-learning placement(s), before, during and after the service. The Learning Plan must be retained by the faculty member with the grade book in compliance with CSU policy.

SJS4 user guides are located on the Center for Community Learning & Leadership website.

Best Practices: SJSU follows the “Best Practices for Managing Risk in Service-Learning [pdf]” provided by the CSU Office of Community Service (2002). 

Compliance Monitoring: CCLL, under the direction of the Office of Undergraduate Education, will monitor compliance with the SL policy and report discrepancies to the Office of Provost or Designee.

Contact: CCLL staff are available to assist with service-learning procedures, pedagogy, and course development.


No course (or section) should be tagged with the CSLI/HIP Attribute unless it has completed this Service-Learning designation approval process.

Request for Service Learning Designation

In Curriculog (instructions linked) complete the High Impact Practice Course Tag Form, upload an accessible syllabus, and a one-page document answering the questions below.

  • How will students be introduced to service learning pedagogy?
  • What community needs will the student service address?
  • How is service learning tied to the course learning objectives (CLO's)?
  • Please list the non-profit, social service, or government agency (placement sites) at which the students will be placed. If not known, please describe the opportunities you would like students to have.
  • What service are students providing at their placement sites, and how does it contribute to the public good?
  • Are the placement sites listed in SJS4? If not, have the sites begun the University Organization Agreement process?

Courses that receive designation as service learning courses will be assigned a course attribute at the course catalog level in PeopleSoft. Tagged service learning courses will be included in the SJS4 web application.


All SJSU designated service learning courses must incorporate a minimum of ten hours of community-based service throughout the term. Service learning must be integrated in course curriculum; therefore, students must complete one or more assignments (e.g. research papers, journals, public presentations) that integrate the service experience with course content and learning outcomes.

The CSU requires SJSU to assess sites for risk management purposes and to secure a University Organization Agreement (UOA) prior to placement with all community-based organizations (e.g. non-profit, social service, and government agencies). In addition, students must complete a waiver of liability, participation guidelines, learning plan, and provide emergency contact information.


  • Deans oversee compliance of programs in their colleges. They are responsible for ensuring faculty members in their colleges comply with risk management policies and best practices.
  • Department Chairs are responsible for informing their department faculty of the service-learning policy and implementation requirements. Department faculty should be informed at or by the first department meeting of the term in person or via email.
  • The Center for Community Learning & Leadership works in cooperation with the colleges and departments to ensure campus compliance.