Frequently Asked Questions
Guido L. Davis Del Piccolo (8/2001)
is an instructional method that integrates community service with academic
instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking.
is an instructional method that promotes student learning through active
participation in thoughtfully organized community service experiences that:
· are conducted in and meet the needs of a specific community,
· are coordinated with an educational institution, community based organization, and/or health care related agency,
· foster civic responsibility,
· include structured time and activities for students to reflect on their service experience, and
· are integrated into and enhance the academic studies of the students.
No. Service-Learning is a pedagogy—a method—to achieve the existing course objectives. Just as collaborative learning (i.e., group work), lecture, field research, labs, etc. are all methods used to achieve course objectives, so too is Service-Learning. In a sense, one could consider Service-Learning as simply a different “homework assignment” (albeit, an extremely valuable one).
No. In Service-Learning, the students are given credit for the learning, not the service. This learning can be assessed in many ways, but is typically done through an evaluation of reflective journals, final papers, class presentations, etc. which integrate their experiences with the course curriculum. In theory (though not likely) a student could engage in the required numbers of hours, but not receive a passing grade for the “service-learning assignment” and/or the course.
Yes. This is a central aspect that distinguishes Service-Learning from other forms of experiential education (see #7 below). It is precisely this “reflection” which enables students to integrate their experiences with the course material. Moreover, the “reflection” is what is typically assessed by the instructor. Reflection is characteristically conducted through journal writing, final papers, and/or class discussions.
Service-Learning has been applied to ALL disciplines. While Service-Learning has a more “natural” fit with some disciplines, it has been applied across the curriculum. What is essential is recognition of the particular objectives of a course and the degree to which these objectives might be met and/or enhanced through Service-Learning.
No. Only faculty members who have an interest in this pedagogy and, as a result of this interest, have explored it, investigated it, and thoughtfully designed it to apply to their course(s) should use Service-Learning. As we can all attest, jumping into a classroom setting unprepared can be unnerving, ineffective, and even unproductive. (For example, putting students into groups without a clear sense of the objective for doing so lacks effectiveness.) Service-Learning is a pedagogy that, as with any method, requires an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and practical application. Thus, only those faculty members who feel sufficiently prepared should use it.
There are numerous pedagogies (methods) used to bring about or encourage learning. Below is a very general (and entirely incomplete) “outline” to illustrate what Service-Learning is and how it differs from other programs and pedagogies.
Technologically Enhanced Instruction
Experiential Learning ...
·Emphasizes hands-on experiences that enhance understanding of issues relevant to a specific area of study
·May involve monetary compensation
·May or may not address unmet community needs
·Usually places minimal emphasis on students providing service to the site or agency
·Involves co-curricular service opportunities that support, but are directly integrated formally into the academic course or curriculum
·Primary focus is to increase/enhance student understanding of a particular area of study
·May or may not address unmet community needs
·Supervised, structured experiences in a health care facility in which students assess, plan, implement, and evaluate health care related procedures using the conceptual framework specific to their discipline
·Allows students to practice and apply theories and skills learned in the classroom
·Involves no monetary compensation
·Mandatory for completion of related certificate and degree programs
·Combines classroom instruction with planned, supervised work experience in an occupational setting
·Emphasizes skill application/development in the student’s major field of study
·Often involves occupational/technical areas
·Usually involves monetary compensation
·Involves collaboration with the employing organizations
integration of academic study and community service
classroom instruction with real-life situations
make contributions to the community while using the community site as an
opportunity for learning
is on linking the student’s projects, instruction, and/or community service
with broader community awareness (citizenship)
involves a reflection component
a triangular relationship between students, the institution, and the community
and benefits all parties
unmet community needs
Faculty. As a pedagogy, it is faculty who initiate it, design it, and cultivate it to fit their course curriculum. Faculty can and have integrated Service-Learning into their courses in many different ways including a course requirement, extra credit, honors/scholars credit, in-course option, or additional unit. Many colleges also have “stand alone” Service-Learning courses.
On the contrary, faculty wishing to engage in Service-Learning to give themselves more free time should think again. Faculty engage in Service-Learning out of a commitment to student learning. Those who use “non-lecture pedagogies” already recognize that for methods such as group work, technology, and field research to be successful requires substantial effort on the part of the faculty. Quality Service-Learning is not easy; faculty who engage in it should be recognized, commended, and rewarded by the institution and their colleagues.
There are many studies available. Recently (1/2000), the Higher Education Research Institute (UCLA) completed a longitudinal study: “How Service Learning Affects Students”. The data reveal that community service participation shows “significant positive effects on all 11 outcome measures” of academic performance, values, self-efficacy, leadership, choice of a service career, and plans to participate in service after college. Performing service as part of a course (Service-Learning) ADDS SIGNIFICANTLY to the benefits associated with community service for 8 of the 11 outcome measures. Moreover, benefits associated with course-based service learning were strongest for the academic outcomes, especially writing skills. Copies of the Executive Summary can be downloaded from: http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/slc/rhowas.
The role of the “Service-Learning Center” and its personnel is to support faculty members who are engaged in or wish to engage in Service-Learning. Thus, the “Service-Learning Center” primarily facilitates the implementation of the “service” side of the pedagogy. But the “Center” can also facilitate the “learning” side by offering students further opportunities to critically reflect on their service experiences in a multi-dimensional/multi-disciplinary way. Further, the “Center” can provide “service-learning specific” counseling and direction for students that can significantly affect issues such as retention and success. The “Center” also serves as a “liaison” between the faculty member, institution, community agencies, and the student.
The role of the “Service-Learning Faculty Leader” is to recruit, support, advise, and provide referrals to faculty members who are engaged in or wish to engage in Service-Learning. The “faculty leader” conducts or facilitates faculty trainings in Service-Learning pedagogy, as well as, promotes the sharing of ideas and experiences among involved faculty.
To learn more about Service-Learning, call or visit SMC’s Service-Learning Program Office (LV 125) at x8205; or the Program Director, Linda Sinclair, at x8205; or the Faculty Leader, Guido Davis Del Piccolo at x3561. There are also many publications available, some of which we have on campus and there is a plethora of information available regarding Service-Learning on the world wide web. Several recommended sites can be found on our "Service-Learning Useful Links" Page.