How to Develop Good Service Projects

Service-Learning at Chabot College
How to Develop Good Service Projects
Good service projects are the cornerstone of a meaningful service-learning experience.
A good service project fulfills the interconnected goals of service learning: it reinforces
and enriches students’ academic learning, while at the same time meets a genuine
community need.
When students get involved in community service, they may have a highly
positive experience (seeing academic concepts in action, learning about themselves and
their communities, feeling that they can make a difference); on the other hand, they can
feel that they “learn nothing,” or even have negative beliefs about themselves reinforced
when service projects are not well thought-out.
"Developing a good service project means matching up a community need and
the interests and skills of the students involved" (Liz Baumgarten, Director, Virginia
Campus Outreach Opportunity League).
Use the following list to help you develop the best possible projects for your
12 Questions Away from Better Service Projects
(Adapted from Mark Cooper, FIU Volunteer Action Center)
When planning your course’s service project(s), ask yourself these
1. Will students be excited about the project? Does it contain a
stimulating, creative, or social component? Does it offer
opportunities for real learning?
2. Will the service be challenging, valuable, and necessary?
3. Does it meaningfully relate to the ideas, issues, and skills you
are teaching in your course?
4. Have you set aside time for reflection, so that students can
make connections between their service and their learning?
5. Is there enough work to make productive use of the available
service hours?
6. Is it doable? Is the project within the resources (time, people,
money, and expertise) of you, your class, and your students?
Any special training, paperwork, medical checks, fees, or
background checks needed first?
7. Will it be open to, and will you tap into, the diverse abilities,
knowledge, and backgrounds of your student population?
8. Does it clearly delineate specific roles and responsibilities? Will
an orientation be necessary?
10. Is it safe? Have you attempted to foresee any potential
dangers and taken the necessary precautions? Have you had
the proper agreements signed? Have you done a site-visit?
11. Have you given your students choices between different
projects and/or agencies, and set up projects that encourage
their input?
12. Will the supervisors on site be able to provide a good, wellorganized service environment for your students? Are they
personable and easy to work with? Have you familiarized them
with the goals of service-learning and what you want your
students to gain from, as well as give to, the service project?