Steps To Implementation
Now that Service Learning is better understood, how is it implemented? Development can be challenging, but a successful learning experience is that much more rewarding.
1. Clearly state the goals you have in mind for your Service Learning course.
2. Identify both the learning and service objectives. These first two steps will serve as tools for identifying the most appropriate community partner(s), as well as provide you and anyone else involved in the planning process with the opportunity to address potential obstacles and opportunities early on in the planning process.
3. Contact the Community Service department. The department will act as a resource in the planning stages, as well as in placement for and evaluation of students' service.
4. Identify and collaborate with potential organizations for student placement. Assess need(s) of partner organization(s) and seek to provide service that helps fulfill those needs while still maintaining course relevancy.
5. Introduce/Explain the core concepts of SL to the class if this is a first time effort. Make sure students understand how they will be evaluated and the relevancy of SL to the course subject material. Have students sign SL contract/release waiver.
6. Using the pool of potential community partners, assist students in choosing an agency through an assessment of their interests and skills.
7. Keep lines of communication open between all parties involved (Community Partner, Community Service Department, students). A couple of effective tools are email lists and/or online message boards. The mid- and end of semester evaluations maintain a consistent measure of student participation.
8. Student reflection work is key to maintaining course relevancy and providing a genuine learning experience throughout. In-class discussion, journals, and reflective papers and projects are just some of the useful methods of reflection.
9. Now, let's wrap it up! Finish up the course with student reflection and evaluation. It's also important to debrief with the Community Organization(s). Schedule a meeting to review the semester, identifying what worked and what didn't, and what future steps will be.