Off-Campus Service Learning

You’ve decided to get started with service learning, but what steps come next? In this section, learn more about how to transport students off campus for service learning opportunities, safety tips for traveling with student groups, basic liability issues and required waivers, and review a checklist for planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning in your classrooms.

Transporting Students Off Campus for Service Learning Opportunities

Field trips and service work performed off campus can allow students to have a chance to engage with the wider community. The greater Atlanta area is rich with opportunities for service learning work—now, it’s just a matter of getting your students there!


Official Business

If you are leaving campus, all students should sign and return Georgia Tech’s official “Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement” form, found here. The trip organizer should keep the signed forms on file for the duration of the semester.


Getting There
  • Walkable off-campus destinations: A number of places close to campus offer interesting field trip opportunities. Feel free to consult with SLS for some recommendations!
  • MARTA: The MARTA stations closest to campus are North Avenue and Midtown. (The Georgia Tech Trolley goes directly to Midtown Station.) MARTA fare is $2.50 one-way and must be loaded onto a Breeze Card, which itself costs $2. In other words, a round-trip journey for a student who does not already have a Breeze Card costs $7. MARTA also offers a variety of bus routes, which may also be convenient. For more details and to plan your trip, see
    • Be sure to allow extra time in case of delays! MARTA card machines are sometimes out of order and the trains themselves can occasionally be delayed.
    • Make sure that students know 1) where they may have to transfer and 2) what their final station is.
  • Private transportation: If you are working with a small class or dividing your classes into small groups, consider the feasibility of private transportation.
    • Car pools can be arranged, though keep in mind that many students, especially first-year students, do not have cars and insurance coverage may not be sufficient for transporting others.
    • Ride-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, or Curb are available and students can easily coordinate amongst themselves.
    • The Campus Recreation Center (CRC) rents 7, 12, and 15 passenger vans for $35/day. To be eligible to drive a campus van, you must complete two online certification courses and have a clean driving record. Details can be found here:
    • Charter Buses are available through Georgia Tech’s Parking and Transportation Services. The Stinger option, which holds 33 passengers, is $375 for a three-hour minimum trip. Buses can take several days to approve and, during the school year, are unavailable between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. At least two people are required to act as safety chaperones. The buses can travel within a 50-mile radius of the GT Parking and Transportation main office. For more information, see



Students should be reminded to be aware of their surroundings and to practice good judgement before their out of classroom experience. For some students, this may be their first major experience away from Georgia Tech! Be sure to provide the following information:

  • Brief students on basic safety precautions before field trips.
  • Encourage students to travel in groups and to exchange their cell phone numbers with at least a few members of the class in case they are separated.
  • Provide students with a printed map and key phone numbers/addresses, including your own cell number.
  • Remind students to wear weather- and context-appropriate clothing and to leave device-stuffed backpacks at home.
  • Encourage students to fully charge their cell phones prior to departure.


Adapted from the Georgia Tech Writing and Communication Program Guide and the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellows Handbook


Safety Tips for Traveling with Student Groups

We at SLS want you and your students to have a safe, productive, and fun service learning experience. These tips are designed to help you think about plans, actions, and safety when traveling to or from activities or events off-campus. 


Pre­departure Orientation
  • All student participants should receive information about the planned activity, location, date, time, location for departure, and information about the mode of transportation
    • Some activities may also require information about suitable attire
  • Students should submit a waiver and release form 
  • All students should provide you with a cell phone number in case of emergencies
  • Encourage students to leave electronic gear other than cell phones at home
  • Encourage students to bring any medications or medical devices they may need, as well as an insurance card and money for transportation in case they get separated from the group
  • Remind students that their actions are still governed by the Institute’s code of conduct and that they are subject to discipline for misbehavior even when off campus. 
  • If students choose to carpool, please advise them of the following:
  • If you choose to drive your own vehicle, understand that the Institute does not insure you. In the event of an accident, the insurance that covers the vehicle (your own insurance, if it is your car) is what will provide coverage. 
  • If your vehicle’s insurance is paid for by anyone other than you, that person needs to know that you will be traveling. You also need to talk to them about claims that might occur in case of an accident and how they plan on dealing with such issues as they arise.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with the condition of the car(s) that will be used, avoid sleep deprivation, drinking, or drug usage before or during the trip and avoid the usage of portable electronics while driving. 
  • Make sure all drivers have a map and/or printed directions
  • Cell phones should be charged prior to departure


Day of Event

Remind students that they are responsible for their own personal safety and that of their possessions. 
Encourage students to travel in groups when possible.
Stay alert to local conditions including weather. Follow the advice of local authorities or community partners as appropriate.


Tips for Groups

Note: Consider distributing to all students

  • Maintain Group Cohesion. Remember that program/project activities take priority over 
  • personal interests. 
  • Be polite and listen to one another. 
  • Respect each other. 
  • Respect local citizens and community partners. 
  • Honor diversity and differences within the group. 
  • Attack the problem…not each other. 
  • Look for compromises. 
  • Be aware of stress related to group travel. 


  • If someone in the group falls ill or is injured, take immediate steps to protect yourselves and others while rendering aid.
  • Contact emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance) as soon as possible. Authorities will be able to render further assistance and to document the incident.
  • Do not leave a person alone who is sick or hurt.   
  • As soon as you are able to do so safely, contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Life and the Dean of Students, during regular business hours, at (404) 894-6367. 
    • For after-hours emergencies, contact the Georgia Tech Police Department at (404) 894-2500 and request that the “Dean on Call” be contacted.


Emergency Contacts and Additional Resources

Note: Consider distributing to all students

  1. 911 - Local fire, police, ambulance services
  2. (404) 894-2500 - Georgia Tech Police Department
  3. (404) 894-6367 - Office of the VP for Student Life and Dean of Students
  4. _________________ - Community Partner’s emergency phone number
  5. LiveSafe App - Available from Apple or Android
  6. In Case of Crisis App - Available from Apple or Android
  7. MARTA App - Available from Apple or Android


Some information in this document has been adapted from the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellows Handbook (School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech) and from the Office of Student Life at the University of Rochester


Liability Issues

It is completely normal and natural to have concerns regarding potential liability issues in the service learning classroom. While sometimes chatting with the SLS staff can rectify these concerns, here are some additional resources that will provide further information on a variety of issues. 

  • The official Institute Campus Use Facilities Policy Handbook should be consulted if you are planning to host an event on campus in association with your service learning project or course. The handbook is here
  • The Georgia Tech Policy Library has a wide range of resources available, including information about intellectual property concerns, the official Institute faculty handbook, research issues, a teaching handbook, and other issues relating to academic affairs. 
  • Procurement and Business Services handles issues relating to liability insurance and negotiates discounts on services such as travel expenses.
  • The Georgia Tech Research Corporation can assist with issues relating to patents and trademarks
  • The Georgia Tech Office of Legal Affairs serves as the legal counsel for the Institute. They deal with intellectual property issues and are the primary contact point if you are either sued for action relating to the performance of your job or are subpoenaed. They also offer departmental training sessions and some good basic advice regarding contracts
    • Please note: Legal Affairs recommends securing your own counsel if need be. For personal legal representation, refer to the Georgia Bar Association.


A Checklist for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Service Learning Experiences

Stage One: Preparation
  • Course Description: Prepare your syllabus with a clear alignment of the course and service learning project (SLP) goals and objectives; specify course objectives tied to the SLP.
  • Integration of SLP into Course Content: Purposefully plan the course syllabus with integration of the SLP into the course content and class sessions.
  • SLP Description and Requirements: Specify the SLP requirements, directions, and methods for evaluating the project. Include elements of the SLP, such as the use of ongoing reflective journal writing, timeline and time logs; formative and summative evaluation procedures; SLP presentation; questions upon which students should reflect on the value of service learning in areas such as personal development, effective development, and civic responsibility, and on course content; final paper/report; and supporting materials. Provide a clear and detailed description of the SLP that specifies: 
    • Time requirement--amount of time required to devote to project
    • Grading criteria for the project, and value toward the total course grade
    • Types of projects--direct, indirect, advocacy
    • Location of SLP--where service is to be provided and with whom
    • Evaluation--how project will be evaluated. Prepare a scoring guide or rubric that is aligned with and in the same format as the SLP components. Include point or percentage value to components. Provide the scoring guide or rubric to the students in advance, and encourage their use of the instrument in preparing their projects or reports.


Stage Two: Implementation--Performing the Service
  • Foundation for Service Learning: Prior to allowing students to begin a project, provide a foundation for service learning as a philosophy and as pedagogy. Introduce service learning as a valuable instructional technique; provide the rationale and theoretical research base, and assign readings as appropriate.
  • Student Support and Feedback: Consider requiring the students to submit the SLP in parts; give regular feedback, allow students to share ongoing progress with others in class and encourage student reflection as the experience unfolds.


Stage Three: Reflection
  • Student Learning and Performance: Reflect on the student project reflections, completed project, and course grades. Devote time to review data on student learning and performance. Reflect on course evaluations and comments specific to the SLP.
  • Student Satisfaction: Reflect on the comments in the students’ reflections and on course evaluations. Plan in advance to gather sufficient data to provide for a review of student satisfaction.
  • Partner Satisfaction: Reflect on any feedback provided by community partner regarding their observations relating to student performance.
  • Instructor Satisfaction: Reflect on instructor observation and instructor notes, completed projects, and course evaluations. Discus SLP results with colleagues and students. Determine strengths and areas in need of refinement; continue to refine.


Stage Four: Demonstration and Celebration
  • Student Celebration: Allow students to present their projects. Determine whether the presentation of the project is part of the SLP grade.
  • Instructor Celebration: Present the results of your experience to other faculty. Provide support to colleagues and act as a resource. Present at national conferences and publish your results.


Adapted from Jenkins and Sheehey, 2012