There are many definitions of service learning in the literature, each one with common elements that define how service is conducted in conjunction with course content. Service learning includes three elements: Course content/concepts, service project, and student reflection. The Office of Community Engagement at California State University, Northridge has adopted the below definition in 2012.
Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integritates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Faculty choose a limited number of meaningful partnerships with the goal of providing students with different, but consistent off-campus learning experiences. Through service learning, students—from kindergartners to college students—use what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. They not only learn the practical applications of their studies, they become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform.