Community Service and Service Learning Offices

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The Service Learning Community of Practice


What is Service Learning and Community Service?

Difference between community engagement vs service learning

Service learning offices

Community engagement offices

Administrative function and place of the service learning office. Under student life, student affairs, or specialised office etc.

What is service learning and should it have clear boundaries between academic study and work attachments / internship?

Background and History

Service Learning in Singapore

Service Learning Practitioners and Offices

Provide a sense of how many students from tertiary education institutions and secondary schools, in what disciplines who have to go through service learning; how many are part of curriculum, how many voluntary etc

Institute of Higher Learning

Secondary schools

Most schools don't have a service learning office.

VIA coordinator typically takes on the role then gets transferred to another school. MOE wanted to employ a person for each SSO, to work with all the schools. MSF said no, so SUSS did the Singapore Service Learning Symposium. Tan Chuan Jin - education should work more closley with social service.

Issues Faced by Service Learning Offices

Having an overview of social causes and host organisations

Existing Resources

IHL's VWO engagement sessions, networking or festivals

NTU Local Community Engagement Office list of possible projects (see also this webpage)

Gaps and Their Causes

IHLs do their own VWO engagement and develop their own networks

Possible mission creep into non vulnerable groups and causes

Possible Solutions

Matching students with host organisations

Existing Resources

Information on student skills and capabilitiues

Volunteer matching platforms (local)

Information on overseas volunteering opportunities & hosts

Gaps and Their Causes

VWOs may not know what kind of skills and expertise students can bring to the table

Tension between community needs and student needs.Example, some programmes are credit bearing, compulsory or voluntary

Possible Solutions

Compile existing disciplines from across the IHLs and exemplars of projects that their students have done, so that VWOs may understand who to approach for what kind of projects

Example of platform that has approached Singapore offices

Ensuring students acquire community leadership and engagement skills

training and foundations for students so they know how to engage and work with community

Existing Resources

Temasek Poly's Leadership Programme - (LEAP)

National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI)

Gaps and Their Causes

School programmes open only to their own students?

NACLI open only to grassroots?

how to curate proper training for students. And problems with scale, especially if compulsory and student body is large (many have moved online)

Possible Solutions

Structuring meaningful volunteering projects so that students achieve learning outcomes and hosts achieve social impact

Intention to move towards skills-based, instead of more manual or just engagement work

Existing Resources



Gaps and Their Causes

No clear connection between overseas and local initiatives

Some IHLs track student learning through surveys (Ngee Ann Poly)

Possible Solutions

connecting with faculty for more faculty-led, skills relevant work. 

Ensuring service outcomes for host organisations or social impact for community

Existing Resources

NTU Community Engagement Initiatives (12 per year, up to $5k each, for community in South West, application window Jan-Mar & Jun-Aug)

NTU Community Research Fellowship (4 per year, up to $50k, NTU faculty will lead project, submission by 15 Jan)

SIT Community i-LEAP - faculty and students to apply their technology solutions to community issues

Gaps and Their Causes

sustainability and long term partnerships, given student cohorts move

Focus on student learning now, but next phase is on how to move into ensuring community impact. Eg How to ensure continuity of student generations to work with the community instead of start from base zero? Solution: Build on previous cohorts, provide the scaffolding.

Possible Solutions

Ensuring continuity. example of possible initiative where another school go to take over where they left off. This would be great for new coordinators.

Resource Directory

2019 Conferences and Events

7th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Service-Learning (APRCSL) 19 – 21 June 2019

The “Call for Abstracts” is now open. For guidelines and submission, please click here

Previous Conferences and Events

Singapore Service Learning Symposium, July 12 2018 (SUSS)

Our Social Future Conference, 26 October 2018 (NP)

Service Learning Offices


Ngee Ann Polytechnic - Office of Service Learning

Republic Polytechnic -

Temasek Polytechnic - Centre for Character and Leadership Education



NTU - Local Community Engagement Office

NUS Office of Student Affairs

NUS Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre

SIT - Student Life

•SIT:A culture that we are trying to build. Integrating class, work and service learning. Servant Leadership, looking out for each other, supporting the community, to live positive values.

•Applied Learning here at SIT – how can we utilize the skills students are gaining to benefit the community.

•Also looking at applying skills for sustainability. If you can apply that well, it will benefit your career.

•Service learning clubs are under leadership, character building.

•Not part of the curriculum; it is co-curricular. It is optional. Up to students.

•8 projects – local and overseas. 18 – 20 members per club.

•Each club has a project focus, overseas projects have a specific project partner. Local projects – engage various VWOs and NPOs. 

SUSS Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement

•SUSS: Renamed Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement – not academic service learning. Students committed to 18-24 months on a local based project with a community partner. Scope of service will be discussed with the community partner. This year lifted the 18-24 month time frame. Students are no longer bound by the time frame. Projects to have some kind of sustainability. Hope to be able to form a habit, a chosen lifestyle.

•Graduating requirement

•2nd Major Change – provided more options for students to be able to fulfill the requirement of community engagement. Students can work for an NPO or enterprise as an internship or contribution. Students can use the 6-months internship to work in an NPO, approved by office of Career Development. Meet 2 requirements. Options allow students to meet different graduating requirements more effectively.  

•Now also allow overseas SL and CE platforms, such as YEP, partner institutions/universities for SL or CE modules, overseas work attachment with an NGO, VWO or NPO.

•Trying to break down delineation between community service, work and academic – allowing intersection, which would incentivize the student to engage the community. Students are less restricted.

•No hours, no minimum time frame. Do encourage a sustained project (within 6 to 12 months)

•That it becomes a life lesson, a life journey.

•Did a survey – community partners also did not want the students to be there for too long. 

SMU Centre for Social Responsibility

Other Relevant Agencies

NYC Youth Corp

In-Depth Profile

Ngee Ann Poly - Office of Service-Learning



Tan Wan Chin, Deputy Head


Service Learning is their signature pedagogy. Every student will have opportunity to experience service learning at least one academic module over 3 years with NP.

Module based, credit-bearing

Service-Learning Framework

-big hearted person, passionate learner, global-smart professional

-core curriculum is graded, co-curriculum is not graded

Run Dialogue in the Dark and students become interns there.

Bringle & Hacther 1995 (Bringle is their ocnsultant). Learning outcomes of service learning = academic learning, personal growth, and ...

Have to ensure that every student in whatever school have an opportunity to do service learning.

Key Initiatives

48 modules therefore need 48 module leaders.

"Fundamentals in Academic Service-Learning Training" - how to design your course into a service learning experience. Some are for lecturers, others are for course chairs.

Moving to define service learning beyond the focus on under-served communities. How about working with that service learning? SUSS has the same issue.

hard for some to come on board, eg engineering. energy conservation.

They brought engineers to homes of low income families, hosted by Beyond Social Services.

The conversion is important...

Strategic Thrusts

Focus on these objectives: Passionate learning, global smart professional, big-hearted person

Learning beyond the classroom, and acquire employability skills through real world learning

Notes from CoP 4

•NP: Trying to bring together 3 groups – Our Social Future: Innovating for Tomorrow

•Education Partners, Corporate Partners, Students

•What is happening in the real world and how to garner the resources.

•NP’s signature pedagogy – every student will have an opportunity to do SL in 1 academic module – module-based, credit bearing.

•Academic Learning, Civic Learning and Personal Growth – through reflection and critical thinking

•Big-hearted person, passionate learner and global-smart professional

•Students do a real project and manage the project with the partner.

•Student Voice, Enhance

•Module Content, Meaningful Service, Dialogue with Diverse Others, Reciprocal Relationship, Community Voice, Critical Reflection

•Academic SL, Overseas Programmes (YEP or even academic grading/experience), social enterprise/experiential platform/advocacy

•Graduate Outcomes – Big-hearted person, passionate learner and global-smart professional

•Strategic Theme – Learning beyond the Classroom

•Core Values – Respect Responsibility Resilience Integrity Compassion Gratitude

•Skills Future – Employability Skills through Real World Learning/Service Learning (communicate with staff to explain why this is the pedagogy we are recommending.)

•Academic Service Learning @NP

•Offer SL Training – 2 days face to face experiential training – structured reflection and facilitation, principles of partnership, how to design, identify and explore possibilities, how to lead – for faculty and technical officers.

•A day with the community – to understand what service learning is all about.14,000 students, the hope is that all will go through it.

•The department decides and we provide input.

•Making the link how skills can manifest themselves into community benefits.

•We always work with the community partner.

•Important to dialogue with the end-users. Each had a story to tell.

•The conversion is important. It is not just about telling them what to do. 

Republic Poly

Scope of Service Learning
Schools / Clubs Capabilities Examples
Office of Student and Graduate Affairs
School of Applied Science Biomedical sciences, Biotechnology Batam- sports activities, health screening
School of Engineering Batam - engineering students helped in building of communal amenities
School of Hospitality Sunlove Marsiling SAC - culinary students prepare food with seniors
School of Infocomm
School of Management and Communication
School of Sports, Health and Leisure
School of Technology for the Arts Arts and Theatre Management, Game Design
Service-Learning Club

Temasek Polytechnic - Centre for Character and Leadership Education

Established in 1996


Position Name Email Tel
Director Raymond Teo Choo Hwee
Head Marie Chan
Section Head Joshua Liew
Senior Lecturer Adrena Chua

Strategic Thrusts

  1. Develop character and leadership curriculum, run programmes
  2. Consultancy, training and research in character and leadership programmes

Key Initiatives

Leadership Programme - "Leadership: Essential Attributes & Practice" (LEAP)

Signature Programmes - that cover team-based activities, experiential learning, sports, personality profiling, and other enrichment workshops.

Public Forums and Student Forums on Character & Leadership

NTU - Local Community Engagement Office


Position Name Email Tel
Executive Director Dr Toh Kian Lam +65 6592 2517
Deputy Director Alvin Lee +65 6904 1118
Senior Assistant Manager Shi Jin Chen, Iona +65 6904 1108

Strategic Thrusts

  1. Foster new community partnerships through networking and relationship building
  2. Create community impact through community-participatory research
  3. Provide education and enrichment for the community

Special focus on South West Community for projects.

Key Initiatives

Community Engagement Initiatives (12 per year, up to $5k each, for community in South West, application window Jan-Mar & Jun-Aug)

Community Research Fellowship (4 per year, up to $50k, NTU faculty will lead project, submission by 15 Jan)

SIT - Student Life


Conrad Ho, Senior Manager, Student Life

Strategic Thrusts

  1. Community outreach
  2. Leadership development

Underlying philosophy:

Trying to build culture of service in the students. Want to focus on applied learning and to benefit the community.

Voluntary, not requirement. 8 projects are in various SEA countries. There are also community service clubs. SIT-wide activities 70 clubs encouraged to do activities togather, some for bonidng but some can be with community partners.

TIE is a division that encourages students in enterprise skills.

What may be part of the curriculum, eg engineering students who work with healthcare provider as part of their final year project. [Do these get counted and documented by the office of service learning?]

Key Initiatives

Community i-LEAP - An initiative for SIT faculty and students to apply their technology solutions to community issues

email directly

SUSS - Service Learning Office and Community Engagement


Strategic Thrusts

Recent shift in focus and policy

Recently renamed office of service learning and community engagement. Not academic service learning. Students previously do 18-24 months partnership, local. Negotiate with NGOs what the scope of project is. Now, there is no 18-24 month requirement. Sometimes VWO just want 3 months.Very small minority continue for four years. Want the students to be able to scope and do something that they are passionate with. Received feedback from a quarter of the VWOs they work with that they didn't want students to work with them for so long.

Service learning is a graduating requirement. If it is an internship with non-profit or social enterprise, it counts towards the graduating requirement. Have to be approved by office of career requirement. Also allow overseas service learning. Also partner universities with service learning programmes or work attachments/ internships.

Also have curated projects that are staff driven. Community service learning, not academic service learning.

Key change: more international oriented, and also allow paid work. Break down the delineation between what is academic, what is servcie etc. Ideal student before is great at work attachment, academics, and service. Now, it can overlap.

Key Initiatives

Service Learning Symposium