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What is Service Learning?

There are many definitions of service-learning as summarized on the List of Definitions. At Miami Dade College (MDC) we underscore the difference between volunteerism and service-learning.  The formal definition we use is as follows:

“Service-learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities for reflection designed to achieve desired learning outcomes.”
- Barbara Jacoby, Service-Learning in Higher Education, 1996

Faculty members use service-learning by:

  • Incorporating service-learning into their class curriculum;
  • Deciding whether it will be used as an option or as a requirement;
  • Determining a set number of service hours to be completed;
  • Including reflection activities and assignments that accompany the service experience.
  • Offering students an appropriate service location (that matches course objectives) from the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy’s Online Placement List.

Miami Dade College service-learning students:

  • Contact their chosen agency;
  • Set up a meeting/interview with the agency contact;
  • Complete the "Service-Learning Contract" with the agency contact;
  • Complete the “Service-Learning Hour Report” after each shift worked at the agency site and present to agency supervisor for signature/verification;
  • Present the agency supervisor with “Agency Evaluation” at the end of the service assignment which will be completed and then given to the professor.



Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, or genetic information. Contact the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs/ADA Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for information.