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Faculty and Service-Learning

"Service learning brings course materials to life in a way that cannot be readily achieved in the classroom. During our lead paint analysis of a local neighborhood one student noted- "Actually going out into the neighborhood and seeing what I was up against put the entire project into perspective for me and made me think 'wow this is real and actually happening." The significant role their field of study plays in society was also noted by students - "I felt like what I was learning was really going to have application and was really going to mean something to someone. Keeping this in mind really made me more careful about the procedure and data collection steps. I found myself really taking time to do menial lab tasks and double checking my results and procedures." In the process of reaching out to the community the students not only learned the significance of their work, they enjoyed it- "I honestly don't think I've ever had more fun doing a lab-based project before."
- Dr. Andrea Geyer, Chemistry department

The Center for Service Engagement supports and encourages interested faculty to consider service-learning in their courses or curriculum. Practiced by over 1,100 universities nationwide, Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with academic instruction and structured reflection about the service experience. Through optional or required service-learning, students gain further understanding of course content, meet genuine community needs, and learn civic responsibility. Designed to provide students with opportunities to apply course concepts in a real-life environment, service-learning also creates opportunities for students to see their coursework or discipline in the context of social justice and promotes growth in all of the stakeholders in the service-learning process; students, community partner agencies, and classroom members.

Service learning can be:

  1. Discipline-based: students apply skills and information from the classroom into a real-world setting (e.g.: nursing students do blood pressure checks at the Red Cross Blood Drive)
  2. Project or Problem-based: student teams or entire class serve as “consultants “ to a community agency (e.g.: marketing students create a marketing plan for a nonprofit)
  3. Capstone: students draw upon the knowledge they have obtained through their course work and combine it with relevant service work in the community
  4. Action Research: students evaluate the status of a problem in the community and also create a plan for improvement or change regarding the problem.
  5. Pure SL: Intellectual core of class is focused upon the idea of service to the community and civic engagement.
  6. Service Internships: Discipline-based internships in which intentional reflection occurs throughout the internship

Adapted from Hefferman, Kerissa, (2001).Implementation. In Fundamentals of Service Learning Course Construction. Providence: Campus Compact.

"I am constantly amazed at the transformation of students from the beginning of the semester, when they say they have little time for volunteering outside of their school work, sports, and part-time jobs, and the end of the semester, when students gush about what a great opportunity service learning has been. It is heart-warming as an educator to see students learn to value serving in their community." In the Sociology of Sports class her students work with Turnstone Center for the Disabled as they strive to cultivate awareness in athletes with disabilities. In Marriage and Family her students work the entire semester to plan and prepare a Halloween party for children who may happen to be at the women's shelter in town for that holiday. "Both of the places I have partnered with create wonderful, eye-opening experiences that connect learning with service."
- Dr. Karen Monique Gregg, Ph.D., Sociologist from the Department of History and Social Sciences

The Center for Service Engagement supports faculty who are interested in service-learning. The CSE is delighted to work with faculty and departments across disciplines to help them incorporate civic engagement into their courses and programs. Please contact Katrina Boedeker, Director of the Center for Service Engagement at kboedeker@sf.edu or x6791 for further information, at least six weeks in advance of the semester in which the course will be taught.