may be starting this project with a great deal of knowledge
and expertise about Service Learning or with simply a great
eagerness to learn more about it. As with any project, careful
planning and preparation can make this a rewarding experience
for you, your students and people they assist.
Think about your course goals.
Use this as a
brainstorming session. The goal is to generate ideas. later
you will evaluate them, but for now just get some ideas on
paper. Ask yourself, " What are some of my most important
course goals? What would I like to see my students achieve
in this class?"
could be increasing a skill level, such as writing a good
topic sentence, understanding a concept like polynomials,
applying a method like the scientific method, developing personal
responsibility or promoting civic engagement.
TO EXPLANATION OF BRAINSTORMING PROCESS AND CLUSTERING??
Find a community partner.
Think of this
as a research project. Many campuses now have a Service Learning
Center to help you with this step. If yours does, tell them
about your class and your goals and they can help you find
appropriate placements for your students. Often they will
have a list of appropriate community agencies that you can
If your campus
does not yet have a center, find out what connections it does
have with the community such as a Volunteer Center or a work-study
program. For several reasons, it can be a good idea to work
through established campus programs. They have already established
relationship with the organizations and can help you with
referrals and possibly troubleshooting if needed. They can
give you advice about risk management and insurance policies
and procedures when students engage in off campus activities.
Again policies and procedures vary from campus to campus but
it is important to know how your campus handles this specifically
and what they will require from you and your students.
Service Learning Policies
Other ways to
find agencies include using one you already know, possibly
one that you have worked with. You could also go to a local
volunteer center and get a list of organizations from them.
Try your local school district. They may have a volunteer
coordinator who can help you find classes where your students
3. Identify a
Ask your community
partner about their specific needs. Try to get a fairly detailed
"wish list" from them since the longer their list
is , the greater the chance you can make useful connections
between their needs and your course goals
It can help to
tell your community partners about your class and your objectives.
Give them an idea of some of the skills your students can
bring to them; for example ESL students might be able to translate
or computer students could create databases.
4. Connect your
course goal to a community need.
Now that you have
a list of community needs consider how your course goals could
connect to some of them. Again remember to brainstorm at first,
letting the ideas flow freely. Ask yourself," What connections
between my course goals and community needs could there be?
A good brainstorm tool to use at this point could be clustering.
Try doing a cluster that connects your goals with the agencys
Determine how you will integrate Service Learning into your
Most service learning
programs strongly recommend offering service learning as an
option, or for extra credit rather then as a requirement.
Otherwise some students may feel coerced or do it in a last
minute rush. Surveys at Pasadena City College have shown that
when students were required to do service Learning, even the
students who enjoyed the projects resented having to perform
the service. In a different class where students did Service
Learning as an option, no such resentment was expressed. An
option can be presented as an alternative to required project
such as a research paper or as requirement for course completion.
Select a Service Learning option that suits your course.
The most common
choices are individual projects, where students volunteer
at a nonprofit agency or a school, small groups, where small
groups of students collaborate on a community service project
or "one shots, where students volunteer for a prescheduled
one time event such as a beach cleanup. Decide the number
of hours of service hours you will require. Generally 10 --15
hours is feasible for community college students. If you think
your particular students may have many time constraints, consider
a "one -shot" project. Also think about how you
will evaluate the service-learning component of your course.
7. Design reflective
activities to help your students achieve your course goals.
valuable but it is only part of the process. Most students
will not make the connections between their experience and
their coursework on their own. Therefore carefully guided
reflection, processing that experience, will produce the best
results. Determine which kinds of reflective activities will
work best with your students. Some examples are journals,
research papers, oral presentations or essays.
8. Develop ways
to help students connect their service experiences to the course
Keeping your course
goals in mind schedule regular time to connect these goals
to your students service experiences in class. Recent research
by Alexander Astin of UCLA showed that regular in class discussion
of Service Learning experiences was the most effective way
to help students make these connections. In addition to this,
journal assignments and reflection sessions can also help.
9. Consider how
to address/access/incorporate service-learning experiences students
are having to benefit those who arent having them.
As you begin to
think about this, several possibilities like the following
ones may occur. Sometimes the students who are not actively
doing the service can do research on questions that arise
from the service project. They can provide background reports
on issues such as literacy, homelessness that the service
students deal with in their placements. Problem solving groups
or panel discussion might combine students from both the service
and nonservice options.
10. Inform your
students about the project in your syllabus or in a separate
- Provide your
with students with a concise definition of Service learning,
- Explain why it
is a beneficial learning tool
- Show how it applies
to that particular class learning objectives,
- Describe course
requirements, such as number of hours, types of assignments
- Discuss signing
up and getting started.
TO MARY ERIN OR LINDA STROUDS HANDOUT HERE.
Remember to discuss your plans with your department chair or
Determine if you
would like to develop the project and then present it to your
or division dean or check in with them before you start.
While many chairs welcome initiative and innovation, they
also will want to know that the idea is educationally sound
and well thought out. You might want to let him or her know
what service learning is, why you think it will be a valuable
experience for your students and how you will proceed.
first few weeks of the semester can also lay the groundwork
for recruiting students. Start recruiting for the Service Learning
project after the semester begins. Of course it is mentioned
in your syllabus, so students will know a little about it and
some of the more interested ones may have already asked to know
more about the program. Now is the time to let the whole class
know about the project. It is better to start actual service
least a couple of weeks into the semester:
the students need to adjust to their new schedules; also if
you are working with a local school, the teachers need to get
their classes settled and routines established as well.
first few weeks of any semester are so busy that college students
and local teachers who might otherwise be enthusiastic about
your project may be just too busy to participate.
discussions of topics or issues related to the Service Learning
project can lead students to ask "What can we do about
these issues?" These questions are a perfect lead in for
the Service Learning project. If your students dont ask
you these questions, you can always raise them yourself.
important recruitment strategy is to give the program "a
human face." Students are often interested in the idea
but unsure about their own abilities. Seeing people like them
whove successfully participated in the program makes it
seem much more possible. There are several ways to do this.
good way to spark interest for the program is to have class
visits from agency representatives who are enthusiastic about
their programs and about the work your students can do with
good visitor could be college students from earlier semesters
who could can come in and speak about their experiences. If
this is your first time doing the program your Service Learning
Center may be able to refer students whove done Service
Learning in another class.
the presentation, pass out an information sheet and talk about
how youll run the program in your class. Be sure to talk
about the time commitment and the journals and paper that they
will write for you. Have students who are interested sign up.
(LINK TO MARY ERINS SHEET AND OTHER
SERVICE LEARNING FORMS HERE)
Often the agency will have a standard orientation for its volunteers
and it is reasonable to ask the agency to provide this for your
students. However, it is a also good idea to prepare the students
in class before they begin. Some students will be very conscientious
but others will need some guidance as they prepare.
good way to begin is to have your students figure out their
purpose for doing this Service Learning project. Raising peoples
awareness, increasing understanding or offering hope, are all
noble purposes and they are all slightly different. Whatever
their purpose is, keeping it in mind will help them to shape
their actions and responses to their experiences.
this activity to be very difficult since part of the student
passivity that this program addresses stems from a lack of clearly
defined purpose. Ask your students what changes they would like
to see and what effect they would like to have. This
is also a good time to talk about what our expectations are
of change and how it actually works. Change activist and researcher
Fran Peavy has some good insights on the obstacles people have
to changing and the conceptual models people have of change
and how these models affect their ability to change (Peavy 1986).
clarify their own constructive Change Model, students might
reflect on a significant learning experience they had and think
about what they might do to replicate that in their Service
Learning project. Additional subjects to cover include the agencies
expectations, your expectations and the students expectations
An agency will expect student volunteers to be punctual,
reliable, responsible and cooperative. They will expect good
attendance with advance notice of any absence. They will want
students who will fulfill their duties and responsibilities
and communicate well with the people they serve as well as their
supervisors and peers. Often, they will look for people who
are respectful of other cultures and are willing to learn more
for Evaluation in Advance: Have your students establish
some learning objectives and then let them brainstorm some ways
they might achieve these objectives. Explain the steps they
will need to take to find appropriate placements. Go over your
timetables and establish the deadlines for finding and beginning
service. Distribute copies of the paperwork and discuss how
you will want them to do it. Discuss how the project will be
evaluated. Stress the important role of the reflective activities,
discussion groups journals or papers in integrating the
service experience with course content.
students a Service Learning contract which outlines the agencys
responsibilities as well as the students and states the
anticipated learning objectives. Encourage students to go to
their placement sites before their actual starting date just
to look it over and get familiar with it.
remember to schedule regular class time to discuss placement
problems, challenges and epiphanies. This can be an excellent
time to reinforce your course goals, work on students
critical thinking skills and to develop their sense of
agency. Give students opportunities through class discussions
and activities to integrate their service with course materials.
STAR (Students Talk About Race)
PCC STAR program involves students in a Service Learning program
that makes them active, responsible problem solvers. Students
in the STAR program lead an 8 week series of student discussions
on diversity in nearby Middle School classrooms after they first
study critical thinking , conflict resolution, discussion facilitation
and prejudice reduction.
program focuses on diversity because the rise of racial tensions
on and off campuses nationwide has shown us there is an urgent
need to address the complex interweaving of bias and prejudice
based on gender, "race" and class. To do this, we
need to uncover our own biases and to engage in meaningful dialogues,
so we can build alliances that respect differences while searching
for common ground..
first part of the semester the class creates a positive classroom
climate for civil, yet probing discussions and in the latter
part of the semester, students have the option of doing a service
learning activity. If they choose this option, PCC -STAR provides
them with training, curriculum materials, a partner and makes
the placement. The students then lead eight to ten weekly discussions
in a nearby Middle School classroom. They also have regular
debriefing/training and planning sessions as part of their 1C
Critical Thinking classes and further reflect about their experiences
through a series of analytical writing assignments.
program, now in its sixth year at PCC, has involved over 3,915
Middle school students and over 300 PCC students. In exit interviews
and evaluations students have remarked that as a result of the
STAR program they now see personal and social change as much
more possible and perhaps most gratifying they now see themselves
as active change agents.
creating a positive climate for discussion, the class reads
and discusses articles on gender, race and class. As the students
awareness increases they often ask "What can we do about
racism or sexism?" Since we have also talked about change
throughout the class and how people create change, they now
see a least the possibility of change which is a step up from
passivity. At this point, the Service Learning unit begins.
may choose to participate in the PCC STAR program where they
lead discussions on diversity in a nearby middle school for
8 weeks and then write an analytical paper about their experiences.
Since voluntary commitment is an integral part of this service
learning program, students may choose to do a research paper
instead in which they choose a conflict, research it and write
an analysis of it along with a recommended solution, much as
a professional arbitrator might. Students
who choose this option are later involved in the STAR program
as "consultants who help STAR volunteers solve problems
that occur during their sessions.
who choose to work in the STAR program begin with a six hour
participatory interactive student based workshop, especially
designed at PCC. The workshop is led by the PCC -STAR director,
Professor Lou Rosenberg. A professional diversity trainer, she
has conducted numerous trainings in diversity sensitivity and
conflict resolution throughout Southern California.
this workshop, students engage in a variety of exercises and
activities, role-playing and discussion designed to prepare
them to lead similar discussions and exercises in local middle
school classrooms.After a review of listening skills, the students
explore the nature of prejudice and discrimination as well as
ways of resisting them. They also learn about facilitation and
leading group discussions. They are then matched with a partner,
usually one who differs from them in ethnicity and/or gender
The students are placed in a middle or high school classroom.
They work in the same classroom at the same time for eight to
ten weeks, conducting one hour discussion sessions. Students
are well supported as they work since the middle or high-school
teacher is always in the class with the students as they lead
the discussions and they have a step-by-step curriculum to draw
from as they prepare their sessions.
THEORY AND PRACTICE: There is always an interesting gap
between theory and practice. No matter how well prepared the
students are, no matter how much theyve studied and practiced,
their experiences in the classroom will be different from their
expectations and they will come back to their college classroom
ready to complain (or afraid to talk) about this differences:
the students didnt talk enough, they talked too much,
the teacher was indifferent the teacher took over, all of these
are fairly common "problems."
enough, this complaint filled moment can be very rewarding.
Rather than being another problem for an already busy college
teacher to solve, this is a vital opportunity to link academic
subject matter, in this case, Critical Thinking directly to
their workplace situations. One of the most valuable lessons
students can learn is to turn their complaints into subject
matter - which, after all is critical thinking and the kind
of "real world " life skills we want them to have.
the Critical Thinking class, Students form an imaginary company,
"Thoughts R Us." They imagine that its ten years in
the future, they have their advanced degrees and wonderful jobs
as critical thinking consultants. They then break up in to small
groups where they practice applying their problem solving skills.
Prompts from Richard Pauls Center for Critical Thinking
work well here but there are a variety of analytical tools that
could be used in this situation.
STAR students bring in problems theyve encountered in
the course of their activities and the groups help them to define
the problem (it always surprises them how difficult, important
and revealing this stage is). After defining the problem, students
look for assumptions they have made about it , bring out underlying
concepts, explore multiple perspectives, etc. and then generate
even with structure and guidance, the process is not automatic,
and left to themselves, the "clients" would probably
just gripe and the "consultants" would sympathize
and give them advice, and/or agree that the situation is hopeless.
But, with reinforcement, direction and encouragement -
teacher gives the students "time for each step,
when they should be heading into the next phase,
among the groups to help them to stay on task
are generated, acted upon and refined.
the sessions, each participant writes a brief anonymous assessment
of what they gleaned from the experience. The results are encouraging.
helps students to switch from seeing themselves as victims to
seeing themselves as problems solvers.
addition they experience very directly and concretely how analytical
thinking can help them in the workplace. to see a challenge
as an opportunity to ask questions and generate solutions -
to apply the techniques they ve learned and discussed
in the classroom.
there is a ripple effect beyond this: that when faced with challenges
of any kind students remember that they have choices available
to them and that they can analyze a situation and find ways
to make it better.
Another link between experience and analysis is the reflective
journal. There are several good ways to use journal writing
in Service Learning. One
example is to divide the page into three sections, in one students
record their experiences in the next they reflect on them and
generate questions and in the third, they relate their experiences
to specific class readings discussions or exercises.
Another model is they
may have a series of questions to respond to after each session.
STAR uses an adaptation of Critical Incident Journal as developed
by Tim Statton, Director of the Haas Center for Service Learning
at Stanford. In this process, students first keep journals of
their experiences, writing about their experiences after each
weekly session and noting their reactions to these events. At
the end of the sessions, they then pick a critical incident,
a moment that caused them to question or reflect. They then
analyze the incident by applying concepts and materials from
the Critical Thinking class in a final evaluative paper.
The final "product" is a two page reflective paper.
Students are given a detailed prompt ,and must do at least one
draft, a peer review and a revision plan, all of which is turned
in with the journal and the final paper. This gives the teacher
a pretty good overview into the "process" as well
as the "product." In addition, doing the work in stages
focuses the students attention on analyzing their experience.
they write their papers, students go over some sample papers
from previous semesters so they can see the difference between
straight narration and analysis. In small groups they distinguish
between a paper that merely reports experience and one that
analyzes and develop a set of criteria for an analytical paper
that helps when they begin to write their own works.
The results of this program have been encouraging in terms
of combating student passivity, resignation and hopelessness:
well over 90% of the students surveyed in these classes reported
significant change in how they saw their own ability to effect
change and attributed this to their experiences in the class.
PCC STAR experience also plays a vital part in changing students
alienation when it makes abstract concepts more concrete. For
example, writing teachers stress the importance of knowing your
audience and purpose and PCC STAR reinforces these concepts
in a very concrete way as STAR volunteers challenge themselves
to find the right tone to set with their classes and to define
their own mission or purpose for doing the program. As one STAR
volunteer recently remarked "You cant just describe
a theory to these kids. Youve got to bring it home."
Students also learn about responsibility in this program since
there are very real consequences. If they dont show up
or prepare they let down their peers or younger students who
look up to them. Also given that education for many of our students
takes them further away from their communities, STAR can be
a way to reintegrate them back into their communities as they
progress in their studies.
program also has positive effects on students when they prepare
to transfer. One very active student in the program helped to
write an addendum to the national STAR curriculum to make it
more accessible to Middle School students. When she transferred
to USC , she won a place in a very competitive program and community
service - based scholarship for her work with PCC STAR.