Reflection & Academic Credit

Learning does not happen as the result of an experience itself, but through intentional reflection upon an experience.

Therefore, a vital part of service-learning is critical reflection through a guided curriculum. This is what distinguishes service-learning from community service and volunteering.

The ISA Service-Learning Portfolio provides you with a framework to examine your experience, learn about social issues affecting your host community, and demonstrate your professional and cultural competencies achieved during your time abroad. Your portfolio is a compilation of reflection-based assignments and activities completed throughout your program.

Your ISA Service-Learning Portfolio consists of the following:


Reflective Journal
A series of prompts that elicit reflection on personal experiences through a critical lens.


Shared Reflections
A platform for online, real-time discussion between service-learning participants across all sites


Group Discussions
Regular group forums facilitated by your ISA Service-Learning Coordinator are designed to improve your intercultural competency in a wide array of interrelated themes throughout your service


Supervisor Evaluation
A source of feedback from your host organization supervisor about your contribution to the host organization and community


Log of Hours
A log of your service hours at the host organization


Certificate of Completion
A document that demonstrates the successful completion of your program; lists the number of contact hours accrued, group discussions attended, and the portfolio assignments completed

Review our Academic Credit options to see how you may be able to earn credit for participation in a service-learning experience upon your successful completion of the ISA Service-Learning Portfolio.

Academic Credit

If you are interested in earning academic credit for your service-learning experience abroad, you may explore the following options:

Transfer Credit from University of South Florida
ISA Service-Learning has partnered with University of South Florida (USF) to offer a U.S. transcript for all ISA Service-Learning programs. A USF transcript will be sent to the student's home institution 2-3 months after the program end date. Credit awarded will be based on the number of contact hours accrued at the host organization, the completion of written reflection assignments, and a supervisor evaluation.

45 service hours = 1 credit hour

Credit and transcript fees:

  • 4-week program: 2 credits, $275 (90 contact hours)
  • 6-week program: 3 credits, $275 (135 contact hours)
  • 8-week program: 4 credits, $375 (180 contact hours)
  • Summer + Service-Learning program: 2 credits, $275 (90 contact hours)
  • Semester + Service-Learning program: 1 or 2* credits, $275 (45 or 90 contact hours)

*Service-Learning portion of program must be at least 10 weeks to receive 2 credits.

Credit From Your Home Institution
Participants may work with their home university to receive academic credit for their program. Each academic institution has a unique policy for granting credit, thus students should inquire about receiving academic credit with their home university advisors, professors, and/or academic department heads. Many ISA Service-Learning participants have successfully received “Independent Study,” “Internship,” “Directed Studies,” or “Special Topics” credit for their program by presenting their ISA Service-Learning Portfolio.

*Over 70% of students do seek credit for their ISA Service-Learning experience, however, you can also choose to pass on credit and just go for the experience!

Data From Alumni Survey


Felt their service-learning experience allowed them to make a personal contribution to the mission of their host organization


Said they continue to serve in their local communities


Agreed that their service learning program helped shape the focus of their career


Made a personal connection with the members of their host community

This program is unique in the sense that it has the ability to transcend cultural differences and connect with people so different from one another thanks to one common passion: serving others. If you want the opportunity to really dive into a culture and connect with people of the host community, service-learning is the best way to do it.

Julia O.
(Granada, Spring 2018)

I loved my service-learning experience abroad and would recommend it to anyone! For me, it was a great opportunity to integrate my Spanish language skills with my area of study (nursing), which is a really unique opportunity. It gave me the chance to have more purposeful interaction with the host community during my time abroad, which I think it a key aspect to the study abroad experience.

Rebekah H.
(Valparaiso, Fall 2017)

I learned so much participating in service-learning. This experience allows you to open your mind to so many different ways of life, social issues happening in other countries, and ways you can help. The skills you develop are endless because you learn to work alongside diverse groups and not only share your knowledge but also learn from them as well. This experience really helped me grow as a person.

Jordan P.
(Lima, Summer 2018)