At the Annex of Service and Higher Education: A Multidisciplinary Assessment of the Role of Service Learning


  • Anne-Lise Velez Virginia Tech
  • Katherine M. Ngaruiya NC State University
  • Desen S. Ozkan Virginia Tech



service learning, competency-based education, stakeholder benefits


Competency-based education has received significant attention from education leaders, policy makers, and learning scholars in recent years. With courses to degree programs centered on this concept, the discourse has been fueled by renewed discussion on students’ ability to “master skills” in college. As strategies in teaching, learning, and higher education continue to evolve, we argue that service learning plays a critical role in this shift to competency-based education frameworks but that other important methods of teaching competencies are equally important. We conducted interviews with instructors and students in a wide array of academic disciplines, as well as organizational leaders in various nonprofit sectors. Sampling diversity helps capture the range of perspectives around service learning and competency development. This research has important implications for instructors and faculty seeking best practices in designing service-learning courses and for community partners engaging in service-learning relationships with educational institutions.

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Author Biography

Anne-Lise Velez, Virginia Tech

Honors College

Collegiate Assistant Professor