About the Center

What is Academic Service-Learning?

Long identified as an educational “best practice,” service-learning is also emerging as one of the critical components leading to post-graduation employability, an urgent issue confronting higher education. Service-learning, an experiential teaching method that intentionally integrates academic learning and relevant community service, is a well-documented high impact practice in higher education. Impacts relate not only to cognitive gains, but also to an overall increase in intercultural competence, problem solving, teamwork, confidence, and civic commitment. The skills and experience derived from academic service-learning are not lost on employers, who seek these competencies in potential employees. Thus, service-learning helps to fulfill education’s promise of preparing students for their role in society and life. APU’s goal is to discover and help develop difference makers who can find their place and succeed in making their world better. Academic service-learning is an important tool in fulfilling that goal.

Academic service-learning as related to employability has been shown to assist students in several ways:

  • Retention of Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Workforce Ethics
  • Making Connections – Networking
  • Leadership Gains

Academic service-learning at APU empowers students with a commitment to high quality service opportunities directly tied to scholarship, thus advancing the objective of post-graduation employability. Learn more research reports.

Service-Learning at APU

Organize for Excellence
The center, as an academic unit, is unique in its dependence on the skill and commitment of both undergraduate and graduate students to organize, manage, and ensure quality service-learning experiences across the campus.

“Each service-learning project that I helped facilitate has taught me the importance of everyone’s different skills and how God can work through them all. Our office has a variety of classes that complete many unique projects, but all of them serve the local community. Through participating in service-learning, I have confidence in my God-given talents and that there is always a way to serve.”
- Brooke Nagel, undergraduate service-learning advocate

Empower Students
The center, a member of National Campus Compact, enables students to move from theory to practice, preparing them for a lifetime of learning, service, and civic engagement.

Students in Professor Skyla Herod's BIOL 326 bring classroom learning and experience to Azusa Unified School District middle school students, asking “Does taking drugs really matter?” APU’s Brain Awareness Fairs move classroom experience from theory to practice, transforming the perspectives of local youth while preparing APU students for a lifetime of learning, service, and civic engagement.
One neurobiology student shared, “I loved being able to share my passion for science with the kids.”


Build Community
A GLBL 355 (Principles and Practice in Community Engagement) student said of the service-learning experience in South Africa, “I learned that sometimes there are things in this world that we cannot control and cannot change. However, that does not mean we cannot have an impact on the world, and those around us.”

Serve Faculty
The center assists faculty in integrating a service-learning component in their course curriculum that develops service opportunities, trains and orients students, assists in reflection and evaluation, and supports research and publication.

“It continues to be a highlight of the class, helping students learn through real case scenarios. Service-learning reinforces the classroom experience as legitimate.”
- Jim Thompson, Ed.D., art professor

Enhance Scholarship
The center promotes APU’s culture of scholarship throughout both campus and community by learning, using, and sharing knowledge gained from service-learning through conference presentations, undergraduate and graduate research, faculty publications, and evaluation research.

“My experiences guiding my students in service-learning have energized my own research and writing to discover more ways service-learning can support my students’ learning.”
- Karen Sorensen-Lang, Ph.D., professor