Information for Students

“What I have experienced and learned cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom. I’ve learned more in this class—about the criminal justice system, myself and others—than I’ve learned elsewhere. I’d take this class 10 [times] over.” - Criminal Justice outside the Classroom

What is the Difference Between Service-Learning and Community Service?


  • intentionally connects service with academic course content.
  • incorporates an experiential component that complements traditional teaching methods and enables students to become active participants in their education.
  •  instills a sense of civic responsibility in participants through structured preparation and reflection.

Community service:

  • is any unpaid activity that focuses on meeting the needs of a community or individual.
  • Community service may be one-time or ongoing, but is not connected to a course.  

Preparing for Service-Learning

Preparation should take place prior to the start of any service activity and should equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the community. Preparation may include an introduction to service-learning, a discussion about the community organization and population being served and/or a research assignment about the social issue being addressed. Preparation should also include a clear and thorough explanation of the service activities that will be performed.

Reflecting on Service-Learning

Reflection enables students to connect what they learn from the community with what they are taught in the classroom. Meaningful and structured reflection should take place before, during and after the service experience. Reflection may include writing, speaking, multimedia, or other activities. Journaling and class discussion are common modes of reflection.

Continuing Service after Class

Students often find that they wish to continue serving the community beyond the duration of the service-learning class. There are many resources at Towson University that enable students to get involved in ongoing service experiences.