KCC expands service-learning endorsement to all degree programs

Kellogg Community College this fall is expanding its innovative service-learning endorsement to all students seeking to earn an associate degree at the College.

Beginning in 2012, a service-learning endorsement requiring at least 15 hours of service-learning experience tied to a course became a requirement for every KCC graduate pursuing a degree outside of the applied sciences, and hundreds of KCC students serve thousands of hours in their communities each semester as part of their service-learning studies.

The expansion this fall will add the service-learning endorsement to occupational programs at KCC that traditionally also require internships or clinical experience, including the College’s various health and industrial trades programs.

Kate Coplin is director of KCC’s Integrative Learning Department and has overseen service-learning activities at KCC for the past 10 years. Below she answers some questions about the expansion of KCC’s service-learning endorsement to all associate degree students.

What is service-learning? How does it differ from volunteering?

Service-learning is a teaching and learning method that engages students in deep academic inquiry and reflection related to a course or their field of study while they are also actively engaged in their own community. This is different than just volunteering since the service is tied to academic outcomes and has reflection activities. It allows students to solidify concepts taught in the classroom, apply their learning and discover how they can strengthen communities and positively impact society through their actions. Students gain skills and knowledge in and out of the classroom, to help them develop personal and professional success, gain essential life skills and become civically engaged citizens.

Why is service-learning important? What value does the endorsement offer to KCC graduates?

Service-learning combines service to the community with academic objectives to equally benefit the community and the student. Students participate in projects that meet community needs and that involve self-reflection, self-discovery and the acquisition of values, skills and content knowledge. Service-learning is a wonderful resume builder, can assist students in standing out when they transfer and the endorsement will help set them apart from other graduates as they search for their dream job.

Why was the certification not required for occupational students in the past, and why is it being required now?

The faculty saw the impact that service-learning had on our students and our community. Many workforce degrees had service-learning embedded into one of their courses already or were working to have that option in the future. The faculty voted last fall that it was vital to make it a requirement for all students to help increase personal, cultural and civic engagement for our students. Students that understand their value and can see how they can make our community better have the ability to positively impact their career and community. Since the announcement that the requirement will be for all degrees, more faculty and options for classes will be made available starting Fall 2022 and will increase even more in the Spring 2023.

What are the requirements for students and how do students actually complete the requirements?

Students who are working toward a degree at KCC will be required to complete at least one SERV course or take a course that has the service-learning endorsement as an option. The sections that offer it as an option are taught by a faculty member that has completed a Service-Learning Certification. The requirements for hours and assignments will differ depending on the course. Students will register for a section that is marked as having a service-learning option or requirement. Once they are in the course the faculty member will let them know the requirements for the course and service-learning endorsement. Students will serve at least 15 hours (24 hours for the SERV 200 course) and complete reflection activities.

Anything else you’d like to say?

  • KCC is known at the state and national level for having a well-rounded and award-winning service-learning program.
  • Since our program is well recognized, it could assist students in transferring their experience to another college or university. Service-learning is an outstanding resume builder. 
  • Serving our community is part of our mission and it is wonderful that each of our graduates gets to not only participate but walk away with a degree and a service-learning endorsement to add to their resume.

For more information, visit kellogg.edu/service or contact the Integrative Learning Department at servicelearning@kellogg.edu or call at 269-565-2880.

This article first appeared in the June 2022 edition of BruIN magazine. For more information visit kellogg.edu/bruinmagazine