Service-Learning: Engaging
Students Through
Community-Based Learning
Lance Arney, Ph.D.
Associate Director and
Director of Service-Learning
Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships
[email protected]
Service-learning workshop
• This workshop provides an overview of servicelearning, which integrates community service
into course curricula through explicit learning
objectives, preparation, and critical reflection.
• Participants will learn how to design a servicelearning course that can provide students with
structured opportunities to apply what they are
learning in the classroom to communityidentified concerns in real-world contexts.
What is service-learning?
• Service-learning* is a structured learning
experience that combines community service
with explicit learning objectives, preparation,
and reflection.
* Composite definition from Jacoby, B. and Associates. (1996). Service-Learning in Higher Education: Concepts and Practices. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Seifer, S.D. (1998). Service-learning:
community-campus partnerships for health professions education. Academic Medicine; 73:2. In Seifer, S.D. & Connors, K., Eds. Community Campus Partnerships for Health. Faculty Toolkit for
Service-Learning in Higher Education. Scotts Valley, CA: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, 2007.
What is service-learning?
• Students involved in service-learning are
expected not only to provide direct
community service, but also to learn about:
– the context in which the service is provided,
– the connection between the service and their
academic coursework,
– and their roles as citizens.
Service-learning is a form of experiential
education that:
• is developed, implemented, and evaluated in
collaboration with the community;
• responds to community-identified concerns;
• attempts to balance the service that is provided
and the learning that takes place;
• enhances the curriculum by extending learning
beyond the classroom and allowing students to
apply what they’ve learned to real-world
situations; and
• provides opportunities for critical reflection.
Service-learning is significantly different from
other forms of experiential education in that it:
• offers a balance between service and learning
• places an emphasis on reciprocal learning;
• increases an understanding of the context in
which clinical and/or service work occurs;
• focuses on the development of civic skills;
• addresses community identified concerns; and
• involves community in the service-learning
design and implementation.
How do I convert a traditional course into
a service-learning course?
• Learn and Serve America’s National ServiceLearning Clearinghouse Faculty Toolkit for
Service-Learning in Higher Education contains
a list of tips for getting started.
What are some generally accepted
pedagogical principles service-learning?
• The Service-Learning Course Design Workbook
contains a set of principles of good practice
for service-learning pedagogy.
What elements should a service-learning
syllabus contain?
Exemplary service-learning syllabi:
include service as an expressed goal;
clearly describe how the service experience will be measured and what will
describe the nature of the service placement and/or project;
specify the roles and responsibilities of students in the placement and/or service
project, (e.g., transportation, time requirements, community contacts, etc.);
define the need(s) the service placement meets;
specify how students will be expected to demonstrate what they have learned in
the placement/project (journal, papers, presentations);
present course assignments that link the service placement and the course
include a description of the reflective process;
and include a description of the expectations for the public dissemination of
students’ work.
* From Heffernan, K. (2001). Fundamentals of Service-Learning Course Construction. Providence, RI: Campus Compact.
What are some service-learning objectives
for civic education and engagement?
• Examples of purposeful civic education
objectives can be found in the ServiceLearning Course Design Workbook.
• The American Association of Community
Colleges has also assembled a Practical Guide
for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the
• California State University Monterey Bay has
also identified desirable outcomes of servicelearning courses.
What are examples of reflection activities
that can be used in service-learning?
• Check out the reflection activities compiled by
Miami Dade College.
• Learn and Serve America's National ServiceLearning Clearinghouse has a fact sheet on
reflection in higher education service-learning.
• See also Northwest Service Academy's Service
Reflection Toolkit, as well as the Reflection
Template from Learning through Critical
Reflection: A Tutorial for Service-Learning
Students by Ash, Clayton, & Moses (2009).
Key characteristics of high-quality reflection
Reflection activities are implemented continuously throughout the course.
– Multiple opportunities for reflection before, during, and after community experiences prepare
students to engage effectively in community work and invite them to explore the questions,
challenges, and insights that arise over time.
Reflection activities are connected to course goals and objectives.
– Reflection is deliberately integrative, designed to meet desired outcomes such as deep
understanding and application of course material and development of particular skills (e.g.,
communication, teamwork, problem-solving) or attitudes and dispositions (e.g., sense of
efficacy, ongoing commitment to civic engagement).
Reflection activities are challenging, requiring students to think critically.
– Effective reflection creates a safe space without being so comfortable that assumptions or
opinions go unexamined; it is essential to foster open inquiry, encouraging students to express
and consider multiple perspectives in an environment, and stressing the values of civil
discourse, reasoned analysis, and reflective judgment.
Reflection activities are contextualized.
– Meaningful reflection addresses the course content and immediate community experience in
ways appropriate to the larger curricular and community contexts, as well as students’
knowledge, learning styles, and backgrounds.
* From Practitioner’s Guide to Reflection in Service-Learning by Janet Eyler, Dwight E. Giles Jr., and Angela Schmiede
How do I evaluate the impact of servicelearning on my students?
• Download the pre-survey and post-survey our
office has prepared for evaluating the effects
of service-learning on students.
How should students conduct themselves
during at their service-learning site?
• General expectations regarding good student
conduct are presented in an orientation to the
Dos and Don’ts of Service-Learning.
• This presentation is designed for students who
are new to service-learning.
• Let us know if you’d like to have a member of
our staff come to your class to lead this
How do I minimize and manage the risks
involved in service-learning?
• California State University has published a
very thorough Best Practices for Managing
Risk in Service Learning, which contains
materials that can be adapted and modified.
• Examples of guiding principles of risk
reduction are also explained.
What are some guiding principles for
building successful partnerships?
• Community-Campus Partnerships for Health
has established a list of Principles for a Good
Community-Campus Partnership.
What should I consider while developing
an agreement with a community partner?
• Guidelines along with sample agreement
forms and a worksheet for writing a
partnership agreement or memorandum are
available here.
How might I measure the strengths and
challenges of a partnership?
• The Faculty Toolkit for Service-Learning in
Higher Education contains a partnership
assessment tool that can be used to measure
the success of your partnership.
How can I find community partners or let potential
community partners know about my service-learning
• USF’s Service Learning Pro database helps USF
faculty inform the campus and surrounding
community of their community engaged research
initiatives and/or of community engaged learning
courses they offer.
• Through use of an online database management
system and an easy to use interface faculty can
enter information about their service learning
course and identify community organizations that
are seeking to partner with USF.
Is there a “toolkit” for faculty who would like
to learn more about service-learning pedagogy
and how to develop service-learning courses?
• Yes, Community Campus Partnerships for
Health and Learn and Serve America’s
National Service-Learning Clearinghouse have
published a Faculty Toolkit for ServiceLearning in Higher Education.
What are some examples of toolkits or handbooks
that other colleges and universities have put together
for their faculty, students, and community partners?
• Service Learning Curriculum Development
Resource Guide for Faculty, California State
University, Long Beach
• Faculty Guide to Service-Learning, MiamiDade Community College
• Community-Based Learning Toolkit for Faculty
and Staff, Weber State University
• Service-Learning Community Partner
Workshop, Miami Dade College
What are some examples of servicelearning courses at USF?
Across fields and disciplines, faculty at USF have developed a
variety of innovative service-learning courses with real-world
Service-learning for English language learners (English Language Program)
Introduction to Urban Studies: Five years of service-learning (Geography, Environment and Planning)
211 Hotline Service-Learning Course (Aging Studies)
Community development in Lealman, Pinellas County (Geography, Environment, and Planning)
GPS/GIS technology with community mapping (Geography; Urban and Regional Studies)
New Class Puts USF Students in the Middle of Life and Death Decisions (Aging Studies)
Social Psychology of HIV/AIDS (Psychology)
Mental Health Assessment of Older Adults (Aging Studies)
Visual Anthropology (Anthropology)
Ethnicity and Health Care (Anthropology)
Anthropology of Childhood (Anthropology)
Introduction to Urban Studies (Geography, Environment and Planning)
Ending Homelessness (Public Policy & Leadership, USF Sarasota-Manatee)
Drama Therapy (Theatre & Dance)
Raising Awareness for Homelessness: A College Course with a Conscience (and a Taste for Art) (Public Policy &
Leadership, USF Sarasota-Manatee)
USF Big Sister and a Little Attention Make a Difference in Sulphur Springs (Geography, Environment and Planning)
Service Learning in the Disciplines
• “How-to” guides with theoretical background and
practical pedagogical chapters written by specialists in
their respective disciplines
Environmental Studies
Medical Education
Political Science
Religious Studies
Planning and Architecture
Teacher Education
Women’s Studies
Peace Studies
Communication Studies
Lodging, Foodservice, and
Campus Compact
National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
Fostering engagement across campus
• OCEP website
Our compilation of Service-Learning Resources and FAQs:
Promoting community-based learning
• Workshops on
developing servicelearning syllabi and
effective partnerships
Promoting community-based learning
• Orientation materials
and partnership
Fostering engagement across campus
• Community Quarterly Newsletter
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