Service Learning Course Guidelines

Service Learning Policy Memo

I. SDSU CURRICULUM POLICY FOR SL DESIGNATION AND APPROVAL OF NEW SL COURSES

The new Service Learning (SL) course proposal is reviewed by a University-level Service Learning Committee. If the proposal is deemed to meet the learning outcomes for Service Learning (SL), it receives the SL designation. Designation as a SL course requires that the following criteria be met. These elements must be addressed in writing as part of the SL designation curriculum proposal and should be clearly reflected in the proposed syllabus:

  1. Justification that the SL component is integral to and supportive of the academic focus of the course. In the syllabus, this can be communicated in the course description, in a separate description of the SL component of the course, and/or in the learning outcomes.
  2. Description of the mechanism(s) used to introduce the SL component to the students. This may be done through various methods including, but not limited to: class discussions, guided readings, experiential class periods, or utilizing the Service Learning and Community Engagement Programs (SLCE), servicelearning.sdsu.edu , as a resource.
  3. Description of the:
  • community partner(s) and location(s) where the SL assignment will be completed;
  • community partner needs and their relationship to the course learning outcomes;
  • expected professional skills and civic learning goals;
  • activities that will meet the service requirement;
  • length of time students will be required to serve (minimum of 15 hours during the semester, with 20 hours being optimal, regardless of the unit value of the course);
  • process for verification of service hours.
  • Description of the mechanisms and opportunities for ongoing student reflection on the integration of the SL component with course content (e.g., class discussions, journals, papers, presentations).
  1. The grading standards of the course must reflect that the weight assigned to the service-learning component accounts for a significant portion of the total course grade (minimum of 15%, with 20% or more being optimal).

II. SERVICE LEARNING DEFINITIONS, OUTCOMES, AND OTHER ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN SL COURSE SYLLABI                             

The information provided below is to help faculty develop a thorough Service Learning course syllabus. Please include the following items in your syllabus:                                

  • The definition of Service Learning
  • General policies related to Service Learning
  • Learning outcomes associated with Service Learning           

DEFINITION OF SERVICE LEARNING

Service Learning entails active student participation in intentional and collaborative service experiences that help promote long-term community development and civic engagement. Service Learning projects significantly relate to course content as well as enrich student education through the acquisition of professional skills in a practical (or applied) setting while also satisfying the needs of partner institutions. Through various pedagogic activities involving reflection, students enhance their sense of civic responsibility, self-awareness, and commitment to the community.

A Service Learning Course is an academic course that provides students opportunities to participate in organized service activities that meet community needs while linking these experiences to course content. Service Learning courses enhance education by providing activities that expand the scope of the course beyond traditional in-class assignments and group projects. Collaboration and the further development of ongoing relationships between SDSU and partner institutions serve as service learning’s cornerstone.

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSOCIATED WITH SERVICE LEARNING

Students who apply themselves fully to the Service Learning component of this course should:

  • Identify the local social problems facing communities **
  • Recognize the diversity of communities within and around the San Diego region *
  • Practice professional and social skills at working with others effectively to address community challenges****
  • Relate the course content, the major, and the field of study to individual goals and interests ***
  • Cultivate a network of connections at the university and community level *****

These service learning outcomes support the Seven Essential Capacities developed through SDSU’s General Education curriculum, which are (see asterisks):

  1. Construct, analyze, and communicate arguments ****
  2. Apply theoretical models to the real world;
  3. Contextualize phenomena ***
  4. Negotiate differences *
  5. Integrate global and local perspectives **
  6. Illustrate relevance of concepts across boundaries ***
  7. Evaluate consequences of actions **

GENERAL POLICIES RELATED TO SERVICE LEARNING

At SDSU, Service learning and community service activities are supported by the Service Learning and Community Engagement Programs (SLCEP): servicelearning.sdsu.edu . SDSU requires the following forms to be completed to ensure a general and professional liability for students enrolled in service-learning courses for which they receive academic credit: 1. Community Partner Service-Learning Agreement; and 2. Student Waiver of Liability and Assumption of Risk form.  You will need to submit these forms to your Department Coordinator or other Department Designee at the beginning of the Semester and before starting any service learning activities related to the course.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR SYLLABUS              

  • A course description that includes a discussion of the service-learning project or experience.
  • A more detailed description of the Service Learning project or experience in the course assignments section, including main tasks, outcomes for student and community partner, identification of community partner(s), and brief description of partner organizations.  
  • Textbooks, articles, or book chapters related to Service Learning in general, or relevant to the specific context of Service Learning for your course.
  • A more detailed description of the structured reflection assignment. Such assignments can include journal writing based on specific prompts, formal and informal oral presentations based on specific prompts, role playing, interviewing classmates, photo essays, collages, and more. Consider consulting with the SLCEP for ideas and examples of how to structure reflections.