Recasting Service Learning - An Action Research Model Dr. R. Madhavan

Recasting Service Learning:
Some Ideas
Philosophy of Service Learning
Education does not happen in a vacuum – it’s a creative
synthesis of both class room and field-based learning
Learning should instill a sense of responsibility and
sensitivity to the needs of the community
Recognition of indigenous knowledge practices
Salience of Community participation and service to
Involves learning experiences for both the students as
well as community members
What is Service Learning?
“Service-learning is a credit-bearing,
educational experience in which students
participate in an organized service activity
that meets identified community needs
and reflects 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”
Cycle of Action and Reflection
SLP is a form of experiential education
Learning occurs through a Cycle of Action and
Application of class-room education to real life
community problems
Reflecting upon the experience
Seeks to fulfill felt needs for the community
Deeper understanding and skills for themselves
through the action
Service learning
What is not service learning?
Its not simple service
community is not service learning
institutionalizing a model
for waste management
Its not simple field-based
and pollution reduction
in a village along with the
For example, Conducting a study
on the micro organisms in a
community members is
service learning
Service Learning is
Not an episodic Volunteer Program – like
NSS, where learning is civic and not
curriculum directed
 Not a substitute for class room monotony
 Not another form of course requirement
 Not One sided: Benefiting only students
or the community, but both
 Not the same everywhere; we can
synthesize our own model
Service Learning should:
Extend learning beyond the class room
Fulfill a felt community need
Combine service objective with formal
(academic) learning objectives..
Service Learning should:
Promote two-way learning:
For example, while implementing a model
for instituting safe water practices, the students
may learn traditional methods of water
purification through the use of herbs or pebbles
where as the community may learn the best
methods of water conservation from the
Service Learning should:
Provide opportunities to use skills and
knowledge in real life situation
For example, instead of simply teaching a few village children some
skills in computer, students may devise a new village information
service system – where with the participation of the villagers, all the
relevant information about the village may be systematized and
computerized.. Students apply their knowledge to field while at the
same time fulfill an important need..
Service Learning should:
Address complex problems in complex situations rather than
simplified problems in isolation
Engage problem-solving in the specific context of service activities
and community challenges, rather than generalized or abstract
concepts from a text book
For example, the construction of big dams for irrigation focuses only on
bringing more land under irrigation but does not take into account
the damage it causes to the eco-system. Thus, problems addressed
and understood in isolation shall bring only large scale damage.
Through service learning students should learn to see the problems
in their entire complexity and address them as such.
Service Learning should:
Enable students to identify important
issues within a real-world situation
through critical thinking
 Foster open-ended learning; there are no
“right or final answers” in the back of a
For example organizing a self-care group for the elderly
to address the problems of the aged in the village. Such
activity shall bring sensitivity to the students regarding
the problems of elderly in the context of increasing
numbers of old people in the country.
Service Learning should:
Provide structured time for the students to
reflect on the Service Learning Experience
The students may interact in the field with the
faculty as well as separately in the class room
based on their visit report
Service Learning should:
Foster a sense of caring for others
Generate emotional consequences, which
challenge values and ideas
Support social, emotional and cognitive
learning and development
SL should include:
A well-developed curriculum
Clear Learning Objectives
Meet a felt community need and
Structured space for the students to reflect
upon the experience
What can we do?
SLP can be recast into three proto models
based on
Physical and Computing Sciences
Life Sciences and
Social Sciences and Humanities
What can we do?
Model follows a one-semester cycle.
Model is reviewed at the end of every
semester and improved for
implementation in the next semester
The cycle continues..
What can we do?
A process documentation is integrated
where each student submits a report on
the field-visit. It can be used for student
A higher process documentation is done
by the faculty which can be used for the
entire program evaluation
What can we do?
SLP can be made a four-credit course
 Should ideally involve only interested
students and faculty members
 Student strength can be limited to 40 for
each proto-model
 Involvement of both students and faculty
should have no disciplinary barrier
Structure of the program
Nodal Coordinator
Program Officer
Physical & Computing Sciences
Program Officer
Life Sciences
Research wing
3 or more faculty
Research associates
With faculty volunteers
Program Officer
Social Sciences & Humanities
Logistics Wing
3 or more faculty
With faculty volunteers
Structure : Rationale
The entire program will function under a
nodal coordinator
 Under the nodal coordinator there will be
three program officers who will be in
charge of the three proto models. He or
she will over see the development,
implementation and review of the
curriculum and the model
Structure: Rationale
Under each program officer there will be
two wings : One for Research and the
other for Logistics.
 Both wings shall have a few designated
Associates. Other interested faculty
members may join as Faculty Volunteers
in either wing.
Structure: Rationale
The Research Associates shall be responsible for
coordinating with the respective Program
Officer for identification of the issue,
development of the model, preparing the project
cycle and review
The Faculty Volunteers may contribute to the
Research Team in whatever fashion they wish to.
Structure: Rationale
The Research Wing feeds into both Curriculum
Development and Proto Model Development.
A project Cycle is developed with a detailed list
of each and every activity including class room
teaching along with suitable indicators.
Ensures that the program follows a logical
progress where evaluation and review becomes
Structure : Rationale
The Logistics Associates shall be
coordinating with the Program Officer in
the management of finances, liaison with
the community and handle transportation
and logistics
 The Faculty Volunteers may contribute to
the Logistics Team in whatever fashion
they wish to.
Evaluation shall take place at two levels:
An overall evaluation of the program
 It shall be done at the end of each semester
 The other level of evaluation is for
Program Evaluation
The program evaluation should be done
by the Program Management Team
The Evaluation shall take place once each
semester to gauge whether the program
has met the identified program objectives
Student Evaluation
Internal: Total 50 marks
Written exam conducted mid-way through the
semester for 25 marks. Tests students’ ability
and understanding of the philosophy of SLP,
conceptualization and internalization of the
Written field reports carry 25 marks
Student Evaluation
External: 50 marks
A Comprehensive written report
A Viva Voce examination based on the Written Report
Will test students’ level of participation,
conceptualization and implementation, initiative and
level of understanding the linkage between theory and
Evaluation done by the Course Teacher along with one
or two external examiners
Written report and the Viva Voce will carry 25 marks
Thank You
Ideas are open for criticism,
comment and reflection