SL Institute Kick off 2

Learning Through Serving
An Introduction to Service-Learning
• Your name
• Your discipline
• How long you’ve been at SDSU
• Discuss the following questions:
– What draws you to explore this pedagogy?
– How do you think SL will affect student learning?
– How do you envision your role changing, if at all?
What is service-learning?
• Service-learning combines meaningful service in the community with a
formal educational curriculum and structured time for participants to
reflect on their service and educational experience. Service-learning
stands in contrast to traditional volunteering or community service, which
generally does not include reflection or links to any organized curriculum.
(Hollis, 2004, p. 576)
Another Definition
Service-learning is a “course-based, creditbearing educational experience in which
a) participate in an organized service activity
that meets identified community needs and
b) reflect on the service activity in such a way
as to gain further understanding of course
content, a broader appreciation of the
discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic
responsibility.” Bringle & Hatcher, p. 83 in Toolkit
Essential Elements
• Learning and service objectives are clearly
identified and compatible
• Service is meaningful, challenging, and meets
a real need
• Fosters learning about larger social issues
• Reflection is continuous, structured, and
Types of Service
• Direct
• Indirect
– Advocacy
– Research
– Capacity Building
Service Projects
One-time group projects
Cross-disciplinary projects
Multi-semester projects
Immersion experiences
– Alternative Weekend
– Alternative Breaks
Asset-Based vs. Need-Based
• Intending to “fix” and “help” can drive community
groups to feel marginalized and disengage
• “Development” orientation encourages discovery of
community assets and devising ways to build upon
Needs vs. Assets
Focuses on deficiencies
Focuses on effectiveness
Results in fragmentation of responses
to local needs
Builds interdependencies
Makes people consumers of services;
builds dependencies
Identifies ways that people can give of
their talents
Residents have little voice in deciding
how to address local concerns
Seeks to empower people
• Common plan
• Resource sharing
• Investment of time together
– Closeness determined by
• Frequency of interaction
• Diversity of interaction
• Strength of interdependency
The Power of Partnerships
• Establish missing but critical connections
• Identify new/better way to solve problems
• Link complementary skills and resources of diverse
people and organizations
• Plan and carry out comprehensive actions that
coordinate reinforcing strategies and systems
Campus-Community Partnerships
• A series of interpersonal relationships
– Campus administrators, faculty, staff,
and students
– Community leaders, agency personnel,
and members of community
• To leverage resources to address
critical issues in local community
Service-Learning Partnership
• Faculty member and agency representative
– Educational and community needs
– Roles and expectations
– Communication plan
– Time line
– Evaluation process
– What success will look like
Service-Learning Partnership
• Faculty shares syllabus and learning objectives
• Community partner provides matching service
activity, orientation, and supervision
• Partners communicate throughout and make
adjustments if service or learning needs aren’t being
• Conclude by celebrating accomplishments and
evaluating results
Things to Consider
How do the students benefit academically from the
Is there a balance between the agency’s needs and
students’ abilities?
Have you assessed the length of the project?
Are the service projects designed to fit students’
class and semester schedules?
Is staff available to provide supervision and
Something to avoid…
Student shows up at
agency and says:
“I need X hours for my
class. Can I get them
this week?”
What’s wrong with this scene?
• Learning objectives
– What will student learn in X hours?
– Can this be learned at this agency?
• Service objectives
– What are the agency’s needs?
– Can the student be effective without training and
• Where is the partnership?
Benefits to Students
• Personal – enhanced sense of efficacy,
identity, morality, leadership
• Social – diversity, social responsibility,
citizenship skills, commitment to service
• Academic – increased complexity of
understanding, problem analysis, critical
thinking, GPA, cognitive development, ability
to apply learning to “real world”
Benefits to Faculty
• Enrich and enliven teaching
• Identify new areas for research and
• Develop projects that are simultaneously
productive in research, service, and teaching
• More efficient use of available resources
• Foster cross-disciplinary learning communities
Benefits to Agencies
Infusion of people power to meet needs
Voice in education of next generation
More informed/involved citizenry
Build networks with others active in
community development
• Foster potential future donors and volunteers
• New ideas, energy, and technical assistance
• Gain perspective of outsiders; 3rd party
Benefits to Institution
• Enhance student satisfaction, retention, and
graduation rates
• Improve relationships with community
• Advance institutional goals
– Social Responsibility
– Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
– Diversity Enhancement
• Promote coherent collaborative curriculum
TLC Development of
Community Partners
• Discover needs of active service groups on
campus and in the community
• Attempt to connect faculty with potential
partners to foster a relationship between
• Identify new organizations to add to a partner
list encompassing more than 40 members
TLC Approach to Developing Partners
• Identify active service organizations
• Identify perceived needs and then investigate
their validity
• Soliciting recommendations from current
partners on new potential partners
• Maintain an open dialogue with Faculty to
discover what they recognize as needs
• Key to establish learning outcomes related to
integration of content and service-learning
experience. Can be done by combining
traditional classroom assessment with servicelearning project assessments.
– Presentations
– Papers
– Portfolios
Critical Reflection
• Is an essential process for transforming experiences into
genuine learning
• Requires students to analyze concepts, evaluate
experiences, and form opinions
• Promotes higher-level thinking, problem-solving, selfawareness, and the habit of questioning
• Challenges students to combine facts, ideas, and
experiences to derive new meaning
• Enables students to become knowledge producers, not
just consumers
• Generates, deepens, and documents learning
Critical Reflection
Links experience to course learning objectives
Is guided and purposeful
Challenges assumptions and complacency
Occurs before, during, and after service
Includes components that can be evaluated according to
well-defined criteria
• Involve reading, writing, doing and telling
• Clarifies values and fosters civic responsibility
Reflecting Before Service
• Helps students
– understand community needs and organization
– consider different perspectives
– prepare to work with diverse population
– examine own beliefs, assumptions, attitudes
– establish baseline to measure change and growth
at end of project
Reflecting During Service
• Provides a means for instructor to
– assess student progress toward goals
– ensure that students are performing tasks
– offer feedback, helping students to refine and
develop ideas
– determine developmental level of student
– seize teachable moments
– reinforce connection with course content
Reflecting After Service
• Helps students to
evaluate the meaning of their experience
connect service back to disciplinary knowledge
explore future applications
acknowledge personal growth
• Enables instructor to challenge students to
engage in critical thinking
practice public problem-solving
consider responsible application of knowledge
evaluate impact of service
Student Dissemination of Experience
• Service-Learning
• Undergraduate Research
• Conferences