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  • Three Basic Steps of Service-Learning

Academic Service-Learning

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  • Three Basic Steps of Service-Learning 

    Step 1

    Planning and Preparation: Answering the "why" and "how" of Service-Learning

    It is important that students perform service that is meaningful to them. Involving them in this step contributes to meaningful service.

    • Students should receive specific information about agencies that offer meaningful opportunities including:
      • the function of the agency
      • community needs this agency meets
      • the days and hours the agency is open
      • the duties that they will perform
    • Students should be informed on how service learning will function within their classroom.
    • Students will be informed of their responsibilities (i.e., recording hours, informing agency when they are unable to keep scheduled hours, transportation, etc.)
    • Students will form goals that they would like to achieve in their service learning experience.

    Step 2

    Meaningful Service: Asking the Question of Service-Learning

    This step is the actual performance of community service. At this time students should be contemplating how their classroom education applies to their community service and asking themselves:

    • Is my agency meeting real community needs?
    • Am I a team member? Does my agency involve me in the decision and goal making process?
    • Is my work challenging and meaningful either to the agency and/or to society?
    • How effective is the operation of the agency?
    • What classroom knowledge can I apply to my community service?
    • What am I learning from my community service that applies to my education?
    • What social or personal skills am I developing (either improving familiar or learning new skills)?

    Aside from these questions, students should be reevaluating the goals they had made in Step 1 and adjusting them accordingly.

    Step 3

    Structured Reflection: Evaluating the Outcomes and Benefits of Service-Learning

    This is perhaps the most valuable component of service-learning. Structured reflection allows the student to evaluate the meaningfulness of his/her experience. At this point, students should:

    • Problem-solve specific situations or issues they may have.
    • Be aware of any biases or misconceptions they may have.
    • Be able to apply their classroom knowledge to real-life situations.
    • Have a sense of belonging to their community.
    • Evaluate how commitment to citizenship promotes on-going education and vice-versa.

    There are many ways one can structure the reflection process. Note that this process must be academically acceptable in order for service learning to be an educational tool. Journaling and small- or large-group discussion are among the most favored methods of reflection, but there are many others to choose from:

    1. Photo/Slide presentation
    2. Oral presentation
    3. Instructor-student conferences
    4. Case Studies
    5. Essay or research paper