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Service Learning

This guide provides a variety of Service Learning resources for faculty, staff, students, and community members.


This page contains research and publishing resources including:

  1. Service learning and related terms or more efficient and effective search results in databases
  2. Listing of free and licensed databases for searching practice guides and scholarly and empirical resources.
  3. Handbooks on research methodology and service learning and select subjects.
  4. Publishing and Related Guides link to other guides.  Visit also Temple University Press service learning publications.
  5. Ten Searching Tips

Other pages on this guide also have research outputs and resources for research, including Background/Reference, Journals/Conferences, Funding and Support, Practicing Service Learning and Outcomes and Impact. Program design and implementation research resources are on the Practicing Service Learning page. Some older contents are included on this guide because they may still be applicable or can be used to track more recent materials.

Service Learning and Related Terms

Service Learning related concepts and terms include: 

  • Academic Service-Learning, Action and Practitioner Research,
  • Community Learning; Community Engagement, Community Based Learning
  • Community Service, Civic Engagement, Civic Responsibility, Clinical Experience
  • Experiential Learning, Experiential Education, Field Projects,
  • Learn and Serve, Volunteerism, Internships, Charity, Youth Service
  • Professional Development

Keywords for higher education include: higher education, university, college, post-graduate education, "undergraduate education", "graduate study","postdoctoral education", "undergraduate study", "post-secondary institution", post-secondary, and post-graduate

Keywords for higher education students include: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, undergraduate, college students, graduate students.

Controlled Vocabulary (Subject Headings, Thesaurus Terms and Descriptors)

To aid in searching for resources, the controlled vocabulary of terms used to index or catalog sources in library catalogs and databases are listed below and linked to their scope note or description. Login to EBSCOhost and licensed databases before opening links. Service Learning may be indexed as a narrower term of experiential learning or teaching methods. 

Higher education, students, curriculum, teaching methods, assessment, and evaluation also have controlled vocabulary in databases. Identify other terms by reading the methodology section of systematic reviews and looking at the help for the controlled vocabulary.

Subtopic keywords

The Service Learning literature has included these subtopics, and these and similar terms can be used to search for relevant contents.

  • Academic Credit, Credit options, electives
  • AmeriCorps, Corporation for National Service (CNS), Learn and Serve America - Higher Education
  • Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Benefits, Outcomes and Impact of service learning
  • Bibliographies, books and journals, online resources
  • Citizenship, civil and social responsibility and civil education, civic engagement
  • College and universities with service learning programs or courses
  • Conferences, colloquia, insttutes and academies
  • Co-curricular service, community service, volunteering
  • Community partner selection
  • Course Development, Curriculum Development, Course design, Program design
  • Faculty development
  • Faculty incentives, recognition, promotion and tenure
  • Funding, Awards, Grants, scholarships, fellowships, foundations, faculty fellows
  • Institutionalizing Service Learning on Campus
  • Integrating Service Learning into the Curriculum
  • International Service Learning
  • Leadership
  • Learning Agreement and Service Contracts
  • Learning Circles
  • Liability
  • Mandatory vs Voluntary Service Learning
  • Mentoring and Tutoring
  • Organizations, Associations and Networks (service learning and service related)
  • Partnerships, Community Based Organizations, Community
  • Perception, Motivation and Incentives among students, faculty, or community members
  • Placement Issues
  • Principles of Good Practice, Essential Elements, Best Practices
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Reflection
  • Subject/Discipline based service learning: Peace Studies; Medical Education, Health Science and Nursing, Business, Economics, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Computer and Information Sciences, Education, Hospitality and Tourism, Arts, Engineering, Geography and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Social Work, Physical Education and Sports Science, and many more.
  • Types of service learning: Immersion Program; Alternative Break Programs

Credits: Most of these terms are from Crews R. (2002) Higher Education Service-Learning Sourcebook.

Finding Resources - Licensed Databases

Accessible with Temple Accessnet login or onsite at Temple Libraries.

Some public database index and abstract collections are within licensed databases (e.g. ERIC and PubMed) and can be searched along with other databases through the vendor platform, such as EBSCOhost, ProQuest, and Elsevier Embase.

Finding Resources - Free Discovery Tools

Be aware that publicly available and open access databases and platforms may not have full text but will have citations and abstracts of published materials. Licensed contents will require login.  Open access or in public domain contents may be available to read or download from Temple Library Search or the other free to access sources.

Research Methods

Principles and Methodology

Main principles of community engaged research

These four main principles of community engaged research influence the interaction between academic researchers and community:

  1. Taking an asset- or strength-based approach: The research builds on the strengths and assets of a community.
  2. Being action-oriented: The research should aim to have a tangible impact on improving community well-being, i.e., not only in advancing the science on a research topic.
  3. Bidirectional learning and teaching: All partners bring their own expertise, and each can learn invaluable lessons from one another. Thus, all partners should be respected and compensated as experts based on their experiences.
  4. Equitably sharing resources and time: Partners openly and iteratively discuss expectations and agree on the use of resources and time. This can be achieved by cooperatively going through the process of creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Source: The Office of Community Engaged Research and Practice, College of Public Health, Temple University

Research Topics

Some older resources are included for historical context and some or all of the research questions may still be relevant.

Student Participation and Outcomes

Faculty Participation and Outcomes

Pedagogy and Teaching Effectiveness

Open Access Research Methods Journals

Community Partners Impact

Publishing and Related Guides

What subjects or disciplines write about service learning?

A search using Web of Science Core Collection, selecting "Topic" and entering "Service Learning" and different words for the concept Higher Education returned 3,428 publications (date 4.18.2023). Service Learning articles appear most in education, engineering, nursing, and health related categories.

WOS service learning higher education Chart 4.18.23

Download Web of Science "Service Learning" Higher Education TreeMap Data


Ten Searching Tips

In addition to Library Search and talking with Subject Librarians, use the library research guides (or LibGuides) and databases and resources listed on this page to search and identify journal articles, books, book chapters and other publications.

  1. Use all relevant terms or keywords and, if available, the database controlled vocabulary or indexing and cataloging terms (thesaurus, subject headings, descriptors) in advanced search. Subject dictionaries, glossaries, thesauri, author keywords, and Credo Reference can help identify concepts and words for searching.
  2. Search one concept at a time and then combine them using "AND" or "OR".  Parentheses can be used to specify the search order for operators in a search string. Be aware of the default if no parentheses are used.  For example, in ProQuest, the processing order is PRE, NEAR, AND, OR, NOT.
  3. Use database fields and filters, such as Date, Peer-Reviewed, Source Type, Subject, and Methodology  to focus and narrow your search.
    Geographic location:  For library catalogs, use location field and the geographic subject headings.  For APA PsycInfo search in geographic location field. For ERIC, there are location, laws, polices and programs and assessment and surveys identifiers.
    Use the How to apply methodology filters and Find Empirical and Evidence-Base Articles guides.
  4. Use database guides, tutorials, search tips, tools, and help to efficiently search, filter, save/download, cite and more.
  1. Follow linkages, such as subject, keyword, author, title or series, organization links and links to Similar Titles, Citations or Cited By, References, and More Like This.
  1. Register/Create account and login to save your search history and create alerts.
  2. Select the Find Full Text links to get the entire source for non-full text indexing databases.
    Link Google Scholar to Temple libraries to get full text within our collections.
  3. To save time and search across multiple full-text databases and disciplines, search the entire ProQuest Social Sciences Premium collection, which also includes ProQuest dissertation databases, EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete, or Gale Academic OneFile.
  • Some database specific advanced filtering capability and thesaurus terms may not be available.
  • For the broadest ProQuest platform wide search, use ProQuest Central (nearly all disciplines/subjects)
  1. Use Browzine to browse and read scholarly articles in Social Work journals.
    An account is not needed to use Browzine. Having an account allows for customization.
    To create an account with the Browzine App, select Temple University and login with your TU AccesNet ID.
  2. Target Core Journals in Education and Service Learning journals and search all relevant databases.