Suggested Timeline for Service-Learning Classes

Suggested Timeline for Service-Learning Classes
A number of instructors have requested a timeline so that they have an idea of when and
how the different stages of the service-learning process might best be integrated into their
courses over the semester. Below is a suggested timeline that has worked well for many
of us.
First day(s) of class: Include a section on the service-learning component in your
syllabus. Explain what service-learning is, whether it is required or optional in your
class, and, if optional, what they “get out of it:” (a wonderful and enriching experience,
but also, perhaps, extra credit, one less test or paper, or some other bonus/tradeoff that
seems fair). Explain how many hours they will need to serve, and any accompanying
reflection assignments and/or presentations. Go over this with them and answer
questions when you first go over the syllabus.
First few weeks of classes (before week 6): Periodically remind students about the
service-learning component or option. Give them more specific information (written is
preferable) about what they will be expected to do, what their timeline will be, and, if
optional, when you expect them to make their choice about whether to participate.
Check with each of your community partners to set up an on-site orientation date
sometime after week 7 or 8 so your students can get training.
Around week 6 (late September or late February): Circulate specific information on
the community partners you are working with, the specific projects the students will be
doing there, orientation dates and fingerprinting or TB test requirements, etc., and talk
this through with the class. Ask for a show of hands to see how many might be interested
in which projects. Ask for a commitment from them, and to pick their choice of project,
by a set date.
Week 8 (early October or early March): Students have picked their projects. Make up
lists of who is going where and email the lists to the community partners. Make sure
students know the dates and times for their respective orientations, and that they must
Distribute packets with all necessary forms to participating students, and talk
through the due dates. Packets usually include: descriptions of sites and projects,
timeline for reflection assignments and other due dates, the legal agreement form (with
your part filled out), a log sheet for them to keep track of hours, and a student satisfaction
questionnaire for the end of the semester. Many of these forms are available on the
service-learning website at
Week 9 or 10
Students should have begun their projects by now. Usually, they commit to a few hours a
week for 4-5 weeks. Make sure they turn in their signed legal Agreement Forms
(available on the service-learning website
to you immediately after beginning their projects, and that they have obtained any
necessary TB or fingerprinting clearance for the site.
Once you have received all of your Agreement Forms, please keep them in your
files for risk management (you may want to save forms for several semesters).
Week 10-Week 14 (October-November or March-April)
Projects are underway. Have students turn in several reflection assignments—1-3 page
journals on their experiences at the site—over the course of their service. I usually assign
4 reflections, with one due approximately every other week. This helps them to process
what they are doing, and helps give you a better sense of the experience they are having
and what they are learning. Check in with participating students from time to time to
remind them about due dates for reflection assignments, and to see how things are going.
This helps keep them on track. It’s also a good idea to email your partners once or twice
to see how your students are doing. If there are any problems, you can nip them in the
Week 15 through 17
Students should complete their projects at this time, have their site supervisor sign off on
their log sheet, fill out their student satisfaction questionnaire, and turn in their final
reflection, log sheet, and questionnaire to you. Many instructors have participating
students give a class presentation at this point, sharing what they did in some creative
format with the rest of the class. Students can be given official recognition with
certificates and awards at this time; contact the service-learning coordinators for
certificates you can use for your students.
End of Semester
It’s helpful to touch base with your community partners at the end of the semester to
regroup about how things went on their end, and to thank them. You may also want to
have them evaluate your students’ contributions using the community site student
assessment form.
Have Fun, and Good Luck!
All forms can be obtained on the website
You can also ask Clara McLean [email protected] or
Stephanie Zappa [email protected] for help and tips