What Is Service-Learning

Academic Service-Learning (ASL) is a teaching method that may be integrated into any DePaul course

DePaul students may find ASL as part of either required or elective courses from freshman year through Ph.D. programs.  Though it shares similarities with other forms of community engagement, ASL is not synonymous with volunteerism or community service.  What makes ASL different is that it is fully integrated with course content (theories, methods, concepts, assignments) as a source of knowledge drawn from experiences developed through partnership between the community and the university.  We cherish these community-university partnerships and seek to ensure that they are built on reciprocity, an exchange of knowledge for service provided with the community partners defining the parameters of the service.

ASL can be defined in several ways. At DePaul, we conceptualize ASL as a pedagogical tool intentionally integrating relevant and meaningful service with the community, academic learning, and civic learning. While it involves students in community service as a learning strategy, ASL is is an established teaching/learning method and should never be viewed as an "additional requirement," but one that is critical for reaching the

learning objectives of your course.

ASL can appear in DePaul courses in many different forms

Direct Service

Students engage in coursework that directly relates to service benefiting an organization's clientele/consumers through direct support of the organization's existing programming. Examples include tutoring youth, providing health screenings, and serving meals at a homeless shelter.

Project-Based Service

Students undertake an effort, individually or in groups, needed by the host community organization that results in a tangible product at the end of the term. Examples include, but are not limited to, developing an advertising campaign, creating or improving a webpage, assessing staff recruitment strategies or creating a strategic plan.

Community-Based Research

Students contribute to a research effort needed by the host organization, often for advocacy, program development, or fundraising purposes. These projects involves the community organization in most if not all phases of the research project, from generating the research question to analyzing the data. Students present research findings through presentations and report submitted to the organization at the end of the term.


Students engage in support of ongoing campaigns addressing critical social, economic and political issues in Chicago and internationally.

For questions about how and why service-learning is integrated within your course, please speak directly to your professor.