4. What does a Service Learning course and syllabus look like?
Syllabi organized by field of study (Campus Compact)
Big Dummy's guide to SL (Mark Cooper, Coordinator, The VAC)
Art Service Learning Internship Course Syllabus (Arizona State University)
School of Pharmacy Service Learning Syllabus (University at Washington)
Incorporating service learning into a course or curriculum can be especially challenging due to the amount of semi-unstructured time spent outside the physical classroom. The addition of this element of uncertainty makes it particularly important to design the course and syllabus well. While many of the elements that must be in place when designing any course (Fink 2003) are still valid there are extra factors to consider:
- What are your service learning goals for the course? How do you want your students to be better at the end of the semester? (Do you want them to improve communication and teamwork skills, self-understanding, leadership and public problem solving, critical thinking skills, understanding of the community they will be working with, etc?)
- What organizations are available to you? What are the biggest needs in your community?
- What theme will tie these learning goals and community resources together?
- What reflective activities will help the students in this class reflect on the learning process and reach these goals? (Journal/blog, webpage, newsletter, presentations, research paper, etc…)
- How will I give feedback and grade their service-learning experience? (This question is covered in more detail in a later section.)
- How will I design my syllabus? (Take into consideration that Campus Compact requires a syllabus to include elements of engagement, reflection, reciprocity, and public dissemination in order to be considered.)
Best Practices for Service Learning (Howard 1993)
- Academic credit is for learning, not service
- Do not compromise academic rigor
- Set learning goals for students
- Establish criteria for the selection of community service placements
- Provide educationally-sound mechanisms to harvest the community learning
- Provide supports for students to learn how to harvest the community learning
- Minimize the distinction between student's community learning role and classroom learning role
- Re-think the faculty instructional role
- Be prepared for uncertainty and variation in student learning outcomes
- Maximize the community responsibility orientation of the course