Identify learning objectives and student-learning outcomes that the service-learning experience will meet.
Determine in what way the service will tie in with course content.
Decide whether service-learning will be a requirement or an option within the course.
Determine a minimum number of service hours the students must complete for the course (A minimum of 15 hours of service-learning is recommended, but actual requirements vary on average from 10-30 hours.)
If faculty choose to teach the course online while still providing a local/regional service experience, it is recommended that the faculty member be experienced in online instruction before introducing service-learning to the course. Faculty who use this model need to be particularly attentive to preparing well in advance of the start of the course. Of special importance, too, is working with the community partners to determine how they will communicate, recognizing that the technology may/may not be available to facilitate communication.
Revise the course syllabus to incorporate a description of the service and how learning will be assessed.
Identify a community partner and establish a service activity or project with the help of the Civic and Community Engagement Office.
Attend our community partner meetings to gather information from community partners and to share information about your course.
Check out our list of current partners in the Community-Engaged Partnerships section. Additional information on building successful partnerships can be found there as well.
Strive to create a mutally beneficial service-learning opportunity that addresses the community need and matches the learning outcomes for your course.
Consider whether the service activity is place-based or project-based.
Make sure to define course requirements to both students and community partners, as well as expectations and logistics.
Provide students with a service-learning orientation or invite your SL coordinator to present to your class. Students may need help understanding the issue they will be addressing and the community need.
Check in to make sure students are engaged in their service activity or project. Are they reporting to the site or making progress on their project?
Provide students with structured reflection activities to relate the experience back to the course. Reflection is a critical and necessary component of a successful service-learning course. Please refer to the refection section for suggestions and ideas.
Communication is key to a successful partnership! Communicate with the Civic and Community Engagement Office, community partners, and students throughout the semester.
Schedule check-in meetings, especially at the mid-semester, to make sure the service-learning activity and/or project is on track and students are making progress.
Evaluate the students’ learning based on course content; did the students meet the learning objectives and student learning outcomes for the course?
Please invite your community partner to any final presentations and make sure any materials are delievered to the partner.
Schedule a wrap-up meeting to receive feedback on what went well and ideas for future improvements.
Recognize your students for their contributions! Certificates of Completion will be available to students who successfully complete their service-learning course. We want to encourage a life-long committment to community and civic engagement.
Reflection, the critical link between service and learning, is oftentimes the most challenging part of service-learning for faculty and students alike. For that reason, the following describes the rationale for promoting critical reflection and provides strategies and examples of possible reflection activities to incorporate into your class.
Reflection can take on many forms, all of which are structured exercises designed to analyze connections between the service and classroom components of the course.
Eyler, Giles, and Schmiede (1996) concluded from their research that critical reflection in service-learning is:
Continuous: an ongoing part of learning in the course that provides continuity through each event or experience; reflection occurs before, during, and after the experience.
Connected: the link between service and the intellectual and academic interests of students, resulting in the synthesis of action and thought.
Challenging: an intervention to engage students in issues in a broader, more critical way; reflection pushes students to think in new ways.
Contextualized: appropriate for the setting and context of a particular service-learning course or program; reflection corresponds in a meaningful way to the topics and experiences that form material for reflection.
Discussion Sessions: Structured discussions allow students to share experiences and learn from students working at other sites or other times at the same location. The sessions may be designed with particular themes. Questions that will assist with conversation during a discussion include:
Electronic Discussions: The faculty member sets up a site for students to discuss their service experience via Blackboard or e-mail on a regular basis and posts questions for consideration and topics for directed writings.
Journals: Journals are a common way to assess student learning in a service-learning course. A description of the students’ service activities as well as written, thoughtful reflections about those activities should be included.
Personal Journals: Students may write about any aspect of the service-learning experience on a regular basis.
Directed Journals: Students are asked to describe what they did at the service site after each session, to comment on their reactions and feelings about what happened, and to analyze what happened on the basis of conceptual material from the course.
Journals should be collected throughout the semester. Early and regular feedback for students’ journal entries is critical in teaching students how to develop their reflection skills. Students might be asked to address some of the following questions:
(Adapted from the Volunteer Action Center-Florida International University)
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