Community Engagement

University of Northern Iowa - Community Engagement

Table of Distinguishing Characteristics between Service-Learning, Volunteering/Community Service, & Internships/Practicums


table of the differences between service learning, volunteering and internships

Adopted from:

Loyola University New Orleans. (n.d.). Loyola University New Orleans. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from

University of Arkansas. (n.d.). Service Learning. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from



[Academic] Service-Learning: “Service-learning programs are distinguished from other approaches to experiential education by their intention to benefit the provider and the recipient of the service equally, as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring." [emphasis added]

Community Service: “The engagement of students in activities that primarily focus on the service being provided as well as the benefits the service activities have on the recipients (e.g., providing food to the homeless during the holidays). The students receive some benefits by learning how their service makes a difference in the lives of the service recipients.” 

Volunteerism: “The engagement of students in activities where the primary emphasis is on the service being provided and the primary intended beneficiary is clearly the service recipient.”

Internships: “Engage college students in service activities primarily for the purpose of providing students with hands-on experiences that enhance their learning or understanding of issues related to a particular area of study.”

*Furco, A. (1996). Service-Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from


Additional Resources 

Center for Public Service | Tulane University. (n.d.). Creating and Managing Meaningful Public Service Internship Experiences: A Guide for Community Partners [PDF]. New Orleans, LA: Tulane University’s Center for Public Service. PDF

Clarke University. (n.d.). Service Learning Guide | Clarke University [PDF]. Dubuque, IA: Clarke University.

Mooney, L., & Edwards, B. (2001). Experiential Learning in Sociology: Service Learning and Other Community-Based Learning Initiatives. Teaching Sociology, 29(2), 181-194. Retrieved from