Four Things Faculty Want to Know About
What is Service-Learning?
There are several characteristics which make service-learning a unique way to learn, serve, and teach. Service-learning holds up a mirror for us to see ourselves, a microscope for us to examine our society, and binoculars for us to see what lies ahead.
Characteristics of Service-Learning
- Community service serves as the vehicle for the achievement of specific academic goals and objectives.
- It provides structured time for students to reflect on their service and learning experiences through a mix of writing,reading, speaking, listening, and creating in small and large groups and individual work.
- It fosters the development of those "intangibles"- empathy, personal values, beliefs, awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, social-responsibility, and helps to foster a sense of caring for others.
- It is based on a reciprocal relationship in which the service reinforces and strengthens the learning, and the learning reinforces and strengthens the service.
- Credit is awarded for learning, college-level learning, not for a requisite number of service hours.
How is service-learning different from Community Service, Internships, Cooperative Education, etc.?
- Service-learning uses community service as the vehicle for the attainment of students' academic goals and objectives.
- Community service fills a need in the community through volunteer efforts. Service-learning also fills that need, but it uses that need as a foundation to examine ourselves, our society, and our future. Further, service-learning provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations.
- It identifies in advance, and tracks, specific learning objectives and goals (as well as the intangible ones).
- Students perform a valuable, significant, and necessary service which has real consequence to the community.
- The goal of the service is to empower students and those being served.
- The needs of the community dictate the service being provided.
What about Liability?
First- consult your university/college attorney or risk manager and review all procedures, coverage and risk, et al. **This information is partially excerpted from NSEE "Combining Service and Learning, Vol. II, pg.39-60
- There is an inherent assumption of risk for which all students are responsible. All volunteers and service-learners should be fully informed, in advance, of any risks inherent in the activity, must knowingly consent to undertake such risks.
- Your center will exercise due care and attempt to foresee dangers to students and take whatever precautions seem reasonable to avoid them.
- Work with faculty to prepare a list or "pre-approved" sites. Discuss the list in detail going over each agency. Make the professor confident in the agency site, mission, and service activities.
- All service-learners must sign a waiver of liability written by the university's attorney.
- The agency that provides the service-learning experience will, in most cases, be responsible for the acts of students assigned to it and assumes the responsibility for the student. Be certain the agency has liability coverage/insurance for volunteers.
What is the Faculty's role? What is the Center's role? Who Does What?
Logistics / Administrative Tasks
- Develops volunteer placement list
- Makes presentations about service-learning
component of course.
- Registers and records all students and
- Monitoring, problem-solving.
- Conducts small group reflection sessions.
- Evaluations (pre- and post-service survey)
Teaching / Instructional Tasks
- Consents to be advisor.
- Sets learning objectives.
- Includes service-learning in syllabus.
- Guides/fosters in-class reflection.
- Reviews final reflective journals.
- Gives final letter grade.
Both VOLUNTEER CENTER and FACULTY
Advisement, Follow-up, Reflection
Faculty and Volunteer Center meet to discuss service-learning options.
Approve volunteer site selections and volunteer duties.
(Are volunteer duties harmonious with learning objectives?)
Get involved - attend reflection sessions, go out and volunteer with your students, facilitate in-class discussions, read journals, etc.