Applying for a Service Learning Course Designation
All full-time faculty are invited to apply for a Service Learning Course Designation for courses at the introductory, intermediate, advanced, or graduate level. Service learning is a course-based, credit-bearing form of experiential educational in which students participate in organized service that meets community-identified needs, followed by reflection on the service activity in order to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.
Integrating service learning into the curriculum of any discipline is possible, but it will take some time, careful thought, collaboration, and lots of planning. Developing or revising a course to include a service-learning component for the first time will mean reshaping the philosophy of the course itself rather than simply appending a community service project to the syllabus. That is, while the service project may be only one of several requirements (exams, journals, essays, reports, research), the course should invite students to engage themselves critically and repeatedly in analysis of social systems, diversity, community revitalization, civic participation, and power. Faculty applying for an “SL” designation for the first time are strongly urged to participate in the Advanced Service Learning Faculty Workshop which is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters.
Courses with an “SL” designation must meet the following five criteria:
- Revised Learning Objectives and Course Requirements: a) The syllabus lists a range of learning objectives for the course and is revised to incorporate community-based learning or “civic engagement” into at least one of those objectives. b) Course requirements include one or more service-learning projects that involve a minimum of ten hours of direct service during the semester.
- Academically Relevant Service Project: The service project enriches the principles and theories derived from the academic discipline; thus, the service experience is not an add-on or an afterthought but is fully integrated into the course design and stimulates course-relevant learning (i.e. tutoring, public speaking, health education, field research, report writing, economic impact analysis). While the service-learning project is mandatory for all students, it should also be flexible enough in content to respect a student’s religious, political, and/or moral commitments.
- Curriculum Developed through Authentic Partnership: Faculty members regard the community not as a passive site for student learning but as co-educator and co-learner. Thus, faculty develop the service component of the syllabus collaboratively with community partners before the semester begins (as opposed to assigning students to seek out their own service assignments after the semester begins). The needs, culture, and context of the community are identified by the community partner, not by the faculty member, and are balanced with the student’s need to meet the learning objectives of the academic discipline. Because students are engaged in service-learning that meets real community-based needs—as distinct from observation, apprenticeship, or internship—the curriculum provides the opportunity to develop the citizenship education of students even though the focus may also be on career preparation.
- Structured Reflection: In order to insure that civic engagement in the community becomes an educationally sound instrument of learning, class activities and assignments encourage the blending of experiential and academic learning. Course requirements should include some form of regular, graded structured reflection (journals, final essay, response papers) that links citizenshiplearning (that is, analysis of social systems, community revitalization, civic participation, and power) with the discipline-specific learning that has occurred during the course of the service project. Either the syllabus, supporting assignment sheets, or this portion of the application should clarify the content and frequency of such reflection assignments.
- Assessment of Student Learning: Students are assessed on the basis of the learning demonstrated in reflection assignments, not for the service alone. The service project and related assignments account for at least 20% of the final course grade. The faculty member, the community partner, and/or the student may contribute to the assessment of student learning.
Submit the following materials to the Service Learning Program (Old Main 109):
- Course Designation Cover Sheet
- A working draft of course materials, including:
- A proposed syllabus
- An assignment sheet that describes the service project(s) in greater detail
- An assignment sheet that describes a critical/reflective journal assignment (see criterion #4 above)
- A document explaining how the course will satisfy each of the five criteria for the course designation. (Please organize this document according to the numbered criteria listed above.)
- A list of possible community partners with whom initial contact has been made. (Please include contact names.)