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:
- 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.
These guidelines are based upon the following basic principles outlined by Jeffery Howard in the Service-Learning Course Design Workbook (2001):
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
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:
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 - Some photos courtesy of the Peace Corps - firstname.lastname@example.org