- What is service learning?
Service learning is an educational practice that aims to develop students into citizens who contribute to their communities and who promote social justice. It is genuinely a learning method because it requires that students relate the experience to a course’s learning objectives, employ analytical and creative thinking on the experience, and communicate their thinking in an effective manner. The Sacred Heart University Service Learning Council has also developed a Service Learning Definition as a frame of reference and a starting point for faculty. This page also provides a comprehensive list of different models of service learning for faculty to draw on as they create a service learning curriculum.
- How much time does a service learning class require?
A service learning course undoubtedly requires more time than a “typical” course. Time is needed to meet with your community partner(s), sort through logistics, orient students and structure time for regular reflection and evaluation. However, faculty members currently teaching service learning courses have all found ways of minimizing the time invested. This can be done by building on community connections you already have, incorporating the service into your research agenda or having students work in teams. Most faculty report that it gets easier each time the course is taught.
- What if it takes too much class time?
It is effective to use some class time to reflect on the students’ experiences as a group. Doing this will allow students to see similarities and differences among other students. Ultimately, you can determine what is done during class. If more class time is needed, students can reflect on the experience(s) outside of class through various assignments (e.g. journals, papers, etc.).
- What are some potential challenges of incorporating service learning into a course?
Students will often find the process of working with a community partner challenging, and it is the role of the faculty member to guide them through the process. Students will face logistical challenges in completing service learning hours (i.e. time constraints), in addition to personal struggles or frustrations as they work with the community partner. It is important that the faculty member appropriately set expectations for students in each service learning course, including explaining the role of the service learning hours in the overall objectives of the course, as well as anticipating some of the difficulties students might face in completing the required hours. If students are warned about potential challenges up front, it will better prepare them to problem-solve on their own.
In addition, faculty might face challenges in working with a community partner. As with students, it is important to set expectations with community partner liaisons about the role of the students in the nonprofit/social service organization, exactly what types of work the students will engage, and clearly establishing logistics to ensure a smooth process for students.
- How can I find an appropriate community partner?
On this page you can find a comprehensive list of nonprofits and social service agencies in the vicinity of Sacred Heart University’s main campus.
- Whom do I contact to set up a service learning course?
Please contact the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org.