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Learning through Service Community Service-Learning at the University of Guelph Cheryl Rose, CSL Specialist, Student Life Executive Director, Canadian Association for Community Service-Learning
Writing to Learn, Learning to WriteTeaching Support Services, University of GuelphMay 17, 2005 What’s community service-learning (CSL)? How can writing be incorporated into CSL? Where’s it found in courses at U of G? What do students write??
Characteristics of CSL • Links to academic content and standards • Involves collaboration to determine and meet real, defined community needs • Is reciprocal in nature, benefiting both the community and the service providers by combining a service experience with a learning experience • Can be used in any subject area so long as it is appropriate to learning goals National Commission on Service-Learning
What is Community Service-Learning? Service-learning is a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students work with others through a process of applying what they are learning to community problems and, at the same time, reflecting upon their experience as they seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves. Eyler & Giles, 1999
Steps: Partnerships and Design • Building partnership between university and community – conversations about environments, goals, resources, assets, needs and identifying potential – work to your strengths! • Course Design – integrating into existing courses and/or designing new courses • Service Placement Design – in collaboration with community organizations • Evaluation Design – for each of the partners in CSL initiatives: learning, development, service, teaching, partnerships
Course Design PRINCIPLES • Academic credit is for learning, not for service • Do not compromise academic rigor • Set learning goals for students • Establish base criteria for service placements • Provide mechanisms to maximize learning from service (experiential education models) • Provide supports for students to learn “how to learn” from their service experiences • Move instructional role to one of facilitation and guidance • Maximize the community engagement orientation of the course Howard, 1993
Suggestions for Course Design • Relate the learning objectives of the service component to the overall course objectives • Identify the partnerships and projects that could facilitate the service-related objectives • Consider how the partnerships/projects would benefit the larger community • Identify best format for service component (e.g., mandatory, elective, short-term, long-term, extra credit)
Course Design - continued • Review traditional workload of course and make any required adjustments to integrate service component (learning that can be covered through the experience that is currently covered in some other manner) • Identify strategies to assist students to prepare for service placements in community (e.g., ethics in helping situations, experiential education models) • Incorporate strategies for intentional reflection on experience as related to course (e.g., journals, group discussions, whether face to face or electronic, presentations, papers)
Course Design - continued • Explore the integration of appropriate civic/social issues (e.g., professional responsibility, discipline specific contributions to public good, peace and justice issues, diversity/stereotypes, public policy) • From learning objectives, identify indicators and plan assessment strategies • Consider how your community partner could be of educational assistance, and how they might be compensated for the time and expertise they are able to contribute. Zlotkowski (handout)
Evaluation • Meeting Community Needs (surveys, interviews, focus groups) • Student Learning (journals, written assignments demonstrating theoretical and experiential integration) • Teaching Environment (course evaluations, faculty surveys, identifying research opportunities) • Citizen Leadership Development (pre and post surveys, leadership skills inventories, Social Change Model of Leadership Development)
Why Community Service-Learning? Positive Outcomes of Note: Faculty • Valuable relationships with community partners • New, more active pedagogy • Generate new research opportunities • Personal satisfaction in making a difference
Why Community Service-Learning? Positive Outcomes of Note: Community Groups • Receiving service not otherwise available • Gained new insights into their own operations • Saw themselves as educators • Learned from students and valued their relationships
Why Community Service-Learning? Positive Outcomes of Note: Institution • Developed role in community • Capacity to attract funding • Enhanced image and visibility in community • Avenue for putting the institution’s Mission into action
Why Community Service-Learning? Positive Outcomes of Note: Students • Improved academic performance, especially writing skills • Values development • Career choice direction • Commitment to service post-graduation
Writing Partnerships THREE POSSIBLE PARADIGMS (U of G examples) • Writing FOR Community – producing written documents for non-profit agencies (Teaching and Learning in Non-formal Education) • Writing ABOUT Community – assignments that encourage critical thinking and writing about broad social issues (Arts and Science in the Community) • Writing WITH Community – community members and students come together to collaboratively produce texts that serve to more clearly communicate “community voice” (Foundations in Capacity Development)
References Eyler , J and Giles, Jr., D. Where’s the Learning in Service Learning? San Francisco:Jossey-Bass:1999. Furco, A., et al. Building Partnerships with College Campuses: Community Perspectives. Council of Independent Colleges: 2004 Howard, J., Ed.Praxis I: A Faculty Casebook on Community Service. Ann Arbor, MI. Office of Community Service Learning: 1993. Jacoby, B. and Associates. Service-Learning in Higher Education: Concepts and Practices. Jossey-Bass:1996. Melanson, Scott. (2001) Essay Review; Writing Partnerships: Service-Learning in Composition. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. 8(1), 62-67.
Contact Information: CSL at Guelph • Please contact me if you are interested in discussing integrating a service experience within your course. I can offer assistance in course design, service placement design, community organization liaison, assessment and evaluation. Cheryl Rose firstname.lastname@example.org X 53900