In order to ensure academic integrity, it is essential that service-learning be used in conjunction with rigorous evaluation. Assessment should be based on students’ demonstration of how they are integrating the service experience to course content–not for service performed. The following recommendations are guidelines for how to conduct assessment of service-learners.

  • An assignment or activity, such as a journal, is needed to provide evidence of how the student connects the service to the course content (refer to the reflection section of this handbook for more examples).
  • By helping students to distinguish between description and analysis, between emotional reactions and cognitive observations, faculty help them to transform service experiences into learning experiences.
  • Evaluation of service-learning occasionally makes use of subjective evaluation in the same way that traditional courses sometimes make use of subjective evaluation.
  • There is not a one-to-one correspondence between hours served and knowledge gained or credit earned.
  • Nevertheless, a certain minimum of service hours may be needed to provide an experience of significant depth.
  • Effective fourth credit option programs require a component that explicitly links the service to the course, for example, a learning contract and / or a journal assignment.
  • To preserve the academic integrity of service-learning, credit is not awarded for hours of service but rather for demonstrated learning based on service.
  • Extra hours of service should not necessarily yield extra credit.
  • Giving early and regular extended feedback on students’ journal entries is a critical part of teaching students how to develop their reflection skills.

Adapted from: Troppe, Marie. (1995). Common Cases: Philosophy of Evaluation in Service-Learning Courses, Connecting Cognition and Action: Evaluation of Student Performance in Service-Learning Courses, Campus Compact’s Project on Integrating Service With Academic Study.

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