For Faculty

Service-Learning

Service-Learning provides faculty with the opportunity to engage their students in an experience that reinforces what they learn in the classroom. Students benefit from being able to meet community-identified needs as they exercise their knowledge to assist members of their community. Service-learning is set apart from community service by its nature of reflection and application of skills that one is gaining through education. By integrating Service-learning in the syllabus individuals are given this opportunity for hands-on learning and merited credit for their service.

Guidelines for Designing a Service-Learning Course

Prologue
Designing a service-learning course requires additional preparation and an attention to process. However, do not let this dismay you from the task. One of the functions of the Hunthausen Center for Peace and Justice is to work with faculty to aid them in the design of their courses and in the placement of their students with local service agencies.

Deciding to Implement Service-Learning
Answering the following questions will help you determine whether or not service-learning is an appropriate dimension for your class.

  1. What the goals and objectives for your class?
  2. Can service contribute to students' understanding of the subject?
  3. In what manner will students' service contribute to course goals and objectives? In what ways will it enrich students' understanding of the subject?

Designing a Service-Learning Course
Answering the following questions will help you decide how best to implement service-learning in your course.

  1. What type of service will help the students best understand the subject: a class service project or each student committed to a different community partner?
  2. What community needs can the students' service meet, how do those needs connect to course content, and which agencies serve those needs?
  3. How much service will I require of the students? With enough structure and clear expectations, 20-30 hours is a reasonable requirement, even for students who think that they do not have the time (e.g., double-majors, athletes, etc.).
  4. What are the scheduled start and end dates for the students' service?
  5. How will you place the students: by making your own contacts with community partners or through the Hunthausen Center for Peace and Justice?
    • Will the entire class commit to one partner, will you create teams of students to work with certain partners, or have each student work with different partners?
    • Will you assign students to partners or let them choose? Will you limit the number of students who can work with each partner or let them choose the partner regardless of who many work with it? 
    • Will you limit the partners based on course goals and objectives?
    • For an analysis of the options, see Jack D. Harris, "Service-Learning: Process and Participation" in Service Learning and the Liberal Arts, pp. 22-24 (LC 220.5.S4554 2009 in the Corette Library)
  6. What mode of reflection will you employ that encourages the students to connect their service with course content (resources are available in the Hunthausen Center and in the Corette Library)?
  7. How often will you require student reflections (e.g., weekly, a number of times during the semester)?
  8. How will you orient your students to the use and purpose of service-learning in your course (see Harris, pp. 24-31, for helpful advice)?


For a bibliography of resources on service-learning in the Corette Library,  click here.

For a list of agencies in the Helena community, click here.

Student Reflections on Service-Learning

"I have learned that going outside of my comfort zone is ultimately rewarding."

"I have learned something that I wasn't taught before: not to just complain about what I don't like about something and hope it changes someday so it stops inconveniencing me, but to actually get out there and make a difference myself."

"This story [about a man she met at God's Love] opened my heart to people. Now when I look at homeless people I will not immediately think that they are asking for money just so they can go get booze. I will wonder what their story is, and maybe offer them a little encouragement."

"Meeting immigrants like Maria makes you rethink your views on immigration laws and restrictions. The USA is such a rich country, not rich as in just money rich, but full of opportunities for all kinds of people. I think that we as United States citizens take for granted and displace our anger when immigrants come in and take opportunities that many feel are entitle to them because they are white, when they took advantage of the situation, got greedy, and let the opportunities slip away."

"Through our readings, I have learned to give when I can. ‘God loves a cheerful giver.' I will never forget that phrase as I continue to go about my life. I will continue to serve the community in ways that I can, and I will give what I think I can give."