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Why Host Students Enrolled in Service Learning Courses?

One purpose of a college education is to prepare students for a job or career;  in particular, to prepare them for work that will enable them to live independent lives and to be “net-contributors” to the economic well-being of their communities and society.   Through their studies and co-curricular activities, Chico State students gain knowledge, acquire skills, and develop attitudes, dispositions, and habits that will enable them to live and work as responsible, productive members of the society and communities in which they reside.  Research shows that students are more motivated and learn more quickly and with deeper understanding when they have the chance to work in “real world” settings in which their emerging knowledge and skills are relevant. 

A second purpose of higher education is to shape students into members of society who possess not only factual knowledge and the ability to think, but also experience, the ability to make sound judgments, and skill in working collaboratively with others.  Whether they live their lives as “ordinary citizens” or become leaders in their professions, communities, and society, people who can make sense of the world and will act responsibly and ethically in it are one of higher education’s important contributions to contemporary life.  As President Paul Zingg puts it, “we educate students not just to make a living, but to make a life.” 

For this reason, the University is always interested in exploring the potential for new opportunities for students to devote a portion of their studies to course-related work in the community outside the classroom.  Specifically, the University seeks community partners—groups, associations, organizations, government agencies and departments, etc.—that are able and willing to offer students work that is both germane to their academic studies (as determined by their course instructor) and beneficial to the community partner or to the population the partner serves.


Students enrolled in courses for academic credit are usually eligible to work from 3 to 20 hours per week (in special circumstances, somewhat less or more).  The work offered must be “meaningful” in the sense of being related to the academic and civic learning outcomes of the course in which the student is enrolled, as determined by the instructor.  Students receiving academic credit should not be expected to perform tasks that, however useful or beneficial to the partner they might be, do not advance relevant student learning.  For assistance that is valuable but that does not meet this criterion, inquire about non-credit service (a.k.a., “voluntary service” or “community service”).

In order to identify and select students for course-related service (i.e., “service learning(pdf)), use the Community Engagement Database to locate faculty members offering courses containing a service or civic learning experience for students.