Tips for Successfully Adding Service-Learning to Your Course
1. Complete Brainstorming Worksheet. This will help you brainstorm about what your goal(s) and learning
objectives for the course are and how Service-Learning might fit in. Remember, you want to meet a real
community need. (See your Service-Learning Department for assistance!)
2. Contact Community Partner(s) EARLY. Preparation is key when organizing a Service-Learning
component for your class. You’ll want to start the process well before the semester begins.
3. Remain Flexible. Sometimes community partners might have a different vision than you do for meeting
the needs of their organizations. This can sometimes be a bit of a logistical challenge at first, but can
lead to FABULOUS results, as a truly mutually beneficial partnership is formed.
4. Invite Your Community Partner(s) into Your Classroom. Meeting a representative from the community
organization with which you’re working can have a tremendous impact on the students, as they’ll be
able to connect with the community partner on a more personal level. This will lead to greater student-
investment in and commitment to the project. In addition, having more than one-time contact helps
students understand the Service-Learning component’s connection to the course as a whole, rather than
simply an add-on.
5. Integrate Service-Learning into Your Syllabus. Once you’ve formed your Service-Learning experience
(whether participation, presentation, or product/project), outline the SL component into your syllabus.
Include both the rationale for including the SL component in class, any grades/points that will be
assigned to SL work, and the schedule of due dates associated with the SL component (the schedule
should include any community partner visits and/or class field trips as well as assignment/project due
dates). If you need any assistance with this step, please contact the Service Learning department; we
can give you examples, make suggestions, and answer any questions you may have.
6. Introduce with Enthusiasm. Much of your students’ buy-in and commitment to the project is
determined by the way it is introduced. Three key points to remember when talking with your students:
(1) Service-Learning will benefit THEM (SL enhances coursework, gives them real-world experience,
looks good on resumes, allows them to take initiative, could help them live longer – really! – etc.); (2)
Service-Learning will benefit the community partner by meeting a real need (essential for students’
feeling of efficacy); and (3) YOU the instructor believe strong in the Service-Learning experience you’ve
assigned. If you’re not 100% in, your students won’t be either.
7. Pre-flect, Reflect, and Post-flect. Reflection – getting students to think critically about what they’re
doing, how it ties into coursework, and why it matters – is essential to Service-Learning. It provides the
medium needed for making connections that deepen understanding; in addition, reflection also allows
students to voice any concerns or questions they have. (This emotional element of the SL experience is
essential to its success, as it affects their attitudes throughout the process.) Reflection can take MANY
forms, including large group discussion, small group discussion, five-minute free-writes, longer reflection
papers, video/drawings, etc.
8. Provide Feedback. One of the main indicators of students’ growth and success through Service-Learning
is based on the quality (not quantity!) of feedback they received. Targeted, frequent feedback was most
effective, and verbal feedback’s effectiveness exceeded that of written. (Also, be sure to ask your
students for their feedback, too!)
9. Celebrate Their Success. At the end of the semester, having a culminating event that RELATES to
students’ service and recognizes their work provides the needed close for the Service-Learning