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California State University, Long Beach
Center for Community Engagement
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The Center for Community Engagement promotes participatory citizenship, facilitates campus-community forums that focus on issues of shared concern and creates partnerships for problem-based service learning, research, and creative activities.

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Learn About Community Service Learning

What is Community Service Learning?

Service learning is an opportunity for public, community-based, and faith-based organizations to partner with CSULB faculty and students in addressing significant community needs and/or issues and, in the process, help students develop a lifelong ethic of service and civic engagement.

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Benefits of Service Learning to the Community

  • Links academic study to community service through intentional learning goals and structured reflection to enhance both learning and service.
  • Emphasizes active learning in different environments.
  • Must involve service activities that are relevant to both the course learning objectives and to the needs of the community.
  • Values reciprocity, with the community (community-based organization and community members) and academic (faculty and students) partners sharing the roles of learner, server, and educator to meet both academic and community goals.
  • Engages students in responsible and challenging community service that meets identified community needs.
  • Allows students to reflect critically on their experiences.
  • Is integrated into the course and not an "add-on" or extra work.
  • Provides credit for doing community service. Students will be graded on the learning related to the service, not on the service itself.

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What is the Difference Between Service Learning and an Internship?

Service learning and internships are both considered forms of "experiential learning," which is simply, "learning by doing." However, there are some differences.

  • Internships are designed to provide students with practical, hands-on experience in relation to their academic field of study, and are generally career or job-oriented.
  • Service learning is designed as a way to better understand the concepts of a particular course and is not necessarily connected to one's major or chosen career.
  • Internships are generally for 10-20 hours per week, may take place in for-profit, government, or non-profit organizations, and may provide monetary compensation to student interns.
  • Service learning is generally around 20-30 hours per semester (about 1 - 2 hours per week), and focuses on non-profit and/or public (governmental or educational) organizations that meet significant community needs that focus on public service rather than on profit.
  • Service learning students do not receive monetary compensation for their time since it is part of an academic class.
  • Internships may provide academic credit, and may require that students attend one or two class meetings per year and turn in a paper, portfolio, or other product of the internship.
  • Service learning is almost always integrated into a regular academic course that requires demonstrating an understanding of course concepts by showing how the service-learning experience relates to course content through classroom discussion, reflection journals, papers, and/or exams.

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