ASL Definition

ACADEMIC SERVICE-LEARNING:  DEFINITION AND EXPECTATIONS

Academic Service-Learning is “a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of the course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Unlike extracurricular voluntary service, service-learning is a course-based service experience that produces the best outcomes when meaningful service activities are related to the course material through reflection activities such as directed writings, small group discussions, and class presentations. Unlike practica and internships, the experiential activity in a service learning course is not necessarily skill-based within the context of professional education.” (Bringle/Hatcher)

Guidelines for Effective Academic Service-learning (ASL)

•    ASL meets a real need identified by the community.
•    Clear expectations should exist for students, faculty, and community agencies. What work will students be completing? How will this work connect to course objectives? What do agencies need from faculty members? What do faculty members expect from agencies?
•    Whenever possible ASL, involves an active partnership between faculty member and community agency (members of community agencies become co-teachers).
•    ASL activities are linked directly to the learning objectives of a course.
•    ASL rewards students for the learning arising from service, not the service itself.
•    ASL engages students in structured reflection about their service-experience. Structured reflection is crucial and should be designed to create a bridge between service and course concepts and theories.
•    ASL should be integrated into a course, not simply added on.

Academic Service-Learning Expectations

Faculty and staff are expected to…

•    Share course objectives with community partners
•    Familiarize themselves with the community partner
•    Create course assignments connecting the service experience to course objectives
•    Maintain clear communication link between faculty and agency
•    Do their best to ensure professional behavior on the part of students
•    Handle any problems immediately  (e.g., a student not showing up for service)

•    Treat the agency as a co-teacher, honoring and reflecting upon the perspectives offered by the community agency and its clients

Community partners are expected to…

•    Help students understand the organization’s mission and goals
•    Provide students with challenging work connected to learning objectives
•    Help students reflect on the meaning of their service
•    Teach students how to handle uncomfortable situations that might arise in service
•    Accept their role as co-teachers and take reasonable steps to make the experience educational
•    Maintain clear communication link between faculty and agency
•    Clearly articulate for students what they can and cannot do within the organization
•    Take part in the assessment process

Students are expected to…
•    Be prompt and professional
•    Fulfill all reasonable tasks asked of them
•    Communicate with their immediate supervisor should some portion of the service-learning experience make them overly uncomfortable
•    Conform to the agency’s expectations regarding dress and language
•    Strive to create connections between their service and their coursework
•    Respect the confidentiality of the clients with whom they work
•    Take part in the assessment process
•    Be open to learning about and from individuals different than themselves

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