The faculty-led Service-Learning Committee has recommended these conditions as beneficial for all faculty incorporating this pedagogy. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the standards we have adopted are as follows:
At least one meeting with the Director or Associate Director of Service-Learning is required to discuss faculty goals and objectives for the service-learning course component (completion of the Faculty Planning Guide), as well as possible service placements.
Faculty members are encouraged to choose one or two primary community-based organizations (CBO) per class or section. To increase the efficacy of the service-learning component, the professor will meet with or initiate a conversation with the CBO representative to discuss the expectations of the professor and the expectations of the CBO. Working with the same CBO, service-learning as a pedagogical tool will require less planning.
Often students do not understand the immediate connection between the course and the service-learning component. Faculty will discuss the links between the course and the community, and will reinforce this in the syllabus.
Methods of accountability (i.e. not showing up for service hours, not attempting to set up the placement, or turning contracts in late) need to be considered and written into the syllabus. Suggestion: count the contract as a graded assignment. The Associate Director of Service-Learning will write a note verifying initiative if there is difficulty finalizing placement.
Allow half an hour of class time (maybe more depending on the course or the type of service experience) early in the semester (ideally, the first week) for Center staff to orient and prepare students for the service experience. This orientation might include an open discussion of the stereotypes students may have about the population with which they will be working.
Allow class time to process and discuss the service experience integrating it with academic course work throughout the semester. Faculty may also want to set aside one class for a formal reflective discussion. This usually works best once students are finished or almost finished with the service component. CCSJ staff and CBO representatives can be present as well.
Student coordinators work diligently to find an effective community experience for all service-learning students. The student coordinators offer end-of-the-semester reflections for all students involved in the communities with whom they work. CCSJ asks that you reinforce these reflections as a mandatory part of the service-learning component.
CCSJ will provide information about additional reflection/analysis events that stimulate students’ critical thinking and supplement in-class reflection. Some examples are as follows: African-American Heritage Month series, Faith-Justice Colloquium, Hunger Banquet/other simulation activities.
Logistical Support and Paperwork
- Identify the course as a service-learning course in the course listing
- Contracts turned into CCSJ no later than two weeks after the student deadline (students turn contract in to faculty)
- Strict deadline dates for students to begin and finish their service including methods of accountability and alternatives for students who do not follow through
- Ongoing communication with the associate director of service-learning and CBO representatives
- End of semester evaluations by both students and faculty (CCSJ sends evaluations directly to CBO’s).