Course Development

Why Incorporate Service Learning into Your Curriculum?

Service Learning encourages students to rethink how they learn and why they value their education. As students become involved in their communities, they become active rather than passive learners. While helping to identify and solve problems in their communities, they are building closer connections between their campus and their communities. Service Learning experiences provide unique opportunities to learn about our increasingly varied and changing world, to understand people and cultures that are unique, and to develop resourcefulness, a stronger inner self, and a clearer sense of personal identity. More than any other type of educational activity, working with others from a different culture and/or economic class can help you begin to think critically about what you have, what you value, what other individuals in your community have a right to expect, and how you contribute to your community.

Excerpted from A Guide for Change: Resources for Implementing Community Service Writing by Ann Watters and Marjorie Ford (San Francisco: McGraw-Hill, 1995).

These questions are designed to assist you in implementing Service Learning into your curriculum:

  1. What are the goals of my course?
  2. How will service help me achieve these goals?
  3. How will I define service within the content of my course?
  4. Will my course be service-centered or content-centered?
  5. Will service be required or optional?
  6. How many hours of service will my students complete?
  7. How will community partners play a role as co-educators?
  8. How will the Service-Learning program play a role as co-educator?
  9. What resources/technical assistance would I like the Service-Learning Center to provide to increase my knowledge and understanding of service learning and my role within this pedagogy?

The Who's, What's, Why's, and How's

Who does reflection?

Students, faculty, and other participants.

Some of the skills needed for one to do a "good job" facilitating reflection are:

  1. Observing: what are people doing as members of the group; non-verbal communication.
  2. Questioning: open-ended vs. closed question; feeling vs. informational.
  3. Listening: active listening, pulling together ideas of the group and asking follow-up questions.
  4. Group building: respect among members, environment where people feel comfortable sharing.
  5. Facilitating: be sure all members are heard; guide the discussion.

When do you do reflection?

Before Service: Look at the expectations, stereotypes, etc. before you start service. Ask yourself why you are serving.

During Service: Look at the relationships you are building and what effects they are having. Did they meet the expectations you started out with?

After Service: Sum up the experience. How has it changed you? How will it affect your future? What have you learned about yourself, the community, and others?

What do we reflect on?

  1. The direct service.
  2. The social, economic, and political context of the issue. For example:
    • What kind of purpose do tutors serve in light of the governments cut in educational funding?
    • What kind of role models are mentors for children who are in a lower class?
    • What experiences do they have as a result of being a little buddy that they would not have because of their economic level in society?
    • How have we influenced these issues?
  3. Questions of Meaning and Purpose
    • What is our responsibility to other humans?
    • What is justice?
    • What is equality?
    • What is my purpose in the world?

This is the big picture, and this is where we are starting to make some kind of difference in breaking down stereotypes and boundaries by caring about other people and educating ourselves.

How do we do this?

This is a model to help tie it all together:

WHAT: What do you know about details and what happened? NO judgment statements here.

SO WHAT: Make comparisons: How did your experience differ from your preconceptions? How is your experience different from other people’s; how is it similar? What surprises did you see?

NOW WHAT: Integration: Given your experience and what you’ve learned, how will you change your life/behavior? If you were to write a book about your experience, what would the title be?