Service Learning

  • Overview

    The service-learning experience (SLE) is an educational opportunity in which students learn about social responsibility, advocacy, and the importance of life-long civic engagement, through active participation in purposeful volunteer community service. The importance of SLE in the education of physical therapy students is demonstrated by CAPTE’s Practice Management Expectations for Social Responsibility and Advocacy, Advocate for the health and wellness needs of society, and Participate and show leadership in community organizations and volunteer service.

    A formal SLE is required of all USC DPT students in fulfillment of the DPT degree and the CAPTE Practice Management Expectations. Specifics of the SLE requirement are outlined below.


    a. Respectfully appraise the populations served and understand the challenges they face

    b. Critically examine how the SLE experience effected or stimulated his/her professional and personal growth; For example, did the experience allow acquisition of new skills or enhancement of existing skills? If so, what skills and how?

    c. Identify and appreciate the personal challenges associated with his/her participation in SLE.

    d. Investigate how SLE influenced his/her view of community service and its role in PT education.

    Time Requirement

    A minimum of 12 hours of volunteer service must be completed by the first day of PT 561E.

    Service Learning Sites and Activities

    The students may choose from a variety of volunteer programs. Examples of these programs are included in the Volunteer Opportunities page

    Reflective Assignment

    Each student will complete a reflective assignment at the conclusion of the SLE. The reflective assignment will include a summary of the SLE activity and review of the SLE objectives.

    SLE Credit

    Students will receive credit for their SLE experience in 561e. Students must satisfactorily complete the SLE in order to pass PT561e.

    How to Get Service Learning Hours

    Students will need to complete at least 12 hours of service Learning.  Click to learn How to Get Service Learning Hours.