Designing the Curriculum

Many faculty see the value in developing a Service-Learning course but are not sure how to get started. Faced with curricular revision issues and the daunting task of making community contacts, many people shy away. Contact Becca Berkey, Coordinator of Experiential Education, to get more information on Service-Learning, as well as suitable community partners to collaborate with.  Also, it may be helpful if you speak with instructors who currently teach Service-Learning classes and find out what has worked for them, as well as referring to the Service-Learning Course Development Worksheet.

Here are some questions to consider as you revise a syllabus or create a new Service-Learning course:

How many hours of service should be required? How much is “enough”?

There is no official college policy on this, but to adequately involve a service learning component into the classroom, it is recommended that the students perform at minimum of twenty hours of service throughout the course.

Should the service be optional or mandatory?

If the experience is a necessary part of learning the course objectives, then make it mandatory. If it is a method that offers incentive for understanding the course context, but you believe that students should have a choice about community service, then you could make it optional.

How are students compensated?

Whether service is a requirement or an option in your class, students must clearly understand how they are compensated for this additional work. For example, some instructors reduce the number of exams or traditional papers and replace them with service-related and evaluative learning activities (examples of both are provided under the section of Reflection and Assessment in the Faculty handbook).

Adapted from: Almonte Paul, Dorell, Hafflin Service Learning at Salt Lake Community College, A Faculty Handbook.

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