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Center for Public Service
Alcee Fortier Hall
6823 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118

Phone: 504-862-8060
Fax: 504-862-8061


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 Best Practices in Service Learning Pedagogy

In order to designate a course as service learning, faculty must demonstrate the following elements, which should be included in their syllabus and/or in the course submission form on-line:

  • Service learning within a 3-credit course should include about 20 hours of service learning experience and critical reflection.
  • Service learning offered as an additional 4th credit hour should include about 40 hours of service learning experience and critical reflection. Additionally, courses offering the 4th credit hours:

- will include a summary presentation, performance, exhibition, and/or other synthesizing product completed by the students engaged in the experience.

- will include criteria and evaluative/graded measure of the final product in the syllabus, including the percentage that reflection will represent in the final grade.

  • Faculty will identify one or more course learning objectives that students will address through their service learning experience.
  • Service Learning activities will be integrated into course work.
  • Faculty will structure critical reflection throughout the service learning experience; the reflection will create connection between service learning, course objectives, and student learning outcomes.
  • Criteria and evaluative/graded measures of service-learning reflection will be included in the syllabus, including the percentage that reflection will represent in the final grade.
  • Public service activities indicate careful planning on the part of the faculty member (in conjunction with a CPS coordinator). Sustained partnership with a specific community partner typically leads to a richer experience for all involved.

 

These guidelines are based upon the following basic principles outlined by Jeffery Howard in the Service-Learning Course Design Workbook (2001):

  •  Academic Ties/Identified Learning Outcomes for Participants

- Student participants will develop skills and cultivate new knowledge as a result of their service experience.

- Course instructors should coordinate academic instruction with the community experiences of the students.

  •  Meaningful Service

- Meaningful service activities will benefit the community, relate to course content and thereby "make sense" to students.

- Course instructors should plan ways in which the students can learn about the community and cultural contexts in which they are carrying out their service.

  •  Community-Based Partnerships

- Best practice occurs when course instructors involve service providers in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the service activities.

- Involvement of service-learning students and faculty in these activities is also encouraged.

  •  Reflection

- An important aspect of learning is reflection upon our own actions and experiences. Research shows that reflection has a positive impact on students' attitudes about their experiences in service-learning.

- Students should have ample opportunities to reflect on their experiences, to relate them to course concepts and to their developing understanding of the social context within which the service is taking place.

- Best practice occurs when students have opportunities to reflect both privately and publicly, using many forms of communication (writing, speaking, drawing, class discussions, etc.)

 

Useful Links:

The following documents and links can help faculty self assess service-learning courses, the connection between the academic and the service components, as well as evaluate the partnership:

Ten Principles of Good Service

Self-Assessment (by Rob Shumer)

Faculty Guide to Service Learning (New Hampshire Campus Compact)

Research on Service Learning: An Introduction




 

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu