Teach a Service-Learning Course
APPLES offers an array of services and resources to assist faculty in the development and integration of service-learning experiences in the classroom. Although specific understandings of service-learning pedagogy vary as the field has grown, the range of definitions has begun to converge on several core characteristics of service-learning. APPLES Service-Learning uses Bringle & Hatcher’s (1995) definition of academic service-learning as a “course-based, 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 course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility.”
At a minimum, service-learning courses must meet the following criteria:
- the course has a formal, academic curriculum that is rooted in the discipline in which the course is being offered
- the course contains a set of organized community-based learning activities through which students directly serve a constituency as a means to address an identified community need through a minimum of 30 hours of service
- the course provides structured opportunities for students to critically connect their service activities to the course curriculum.
The APPLES staff is available to all faculty and instructors interested in service-learning pedagogy. Each semester, APPLES is working with more faculty, new disciplines and exciting courses. Faculty new to service-learning should contact Becca Bender to schedule a consultation with a staff member.
PREPARE TO TEACH A COURSE
To prepare for an APPLES course, consider the timeline below. For specific questions, contact APPLES.
BEGINNING TO THINK ABOUT A COURSE
- Contact APPLES for a consultation and start researching potential community partners.
- Review the Service-Learning Series, which includes various resources for faculty and course instructors:
- Attend the Course Development Institute, which is held in May each year and provides interested instructors with more information about teaching service-learning. For more information, contact Becca Bender.
SERVICE-LEARNING DESIGNATION FOR A COURSE
- Submit finalized syllabus to the APPLES office for review.
- Alert the APPLES office of the course you intend to teach by Sept. 15 (for spring semester courses) and March 15 (for fall semester courses).
PREPARING FOR THE SEMESTER
- Submit contact information of community partners to the APPLES office.
- Reconfirm plans with community partners.
EARLY IN THE SEMESTER
- Require students to complete the APPLES online module at the beginning of the semester.
- Distribute APPLES forms at the beginning of the semester.
- Students select their community partner.
- Students begin volunteering by the third week of class.
- Check-in with community partners monthly.
END OF THE SEMESTER
- Distribute course evaluation to students.
- Complete faculty evaluation.
- Debrief with community partners.
DEVELOP A COURSE
Various resources are available to faculty interested in developing a service-learning course. APPLES provides consultations with faculty and instructors on course design, providing resources to prepare students and cultivating community partnerships.
Faculty should begin conversations with community partners as early as possible to prepare for a course. This includes the initial stages of course development, as community partners offer a valuable perspective on the possibilities of service-learning in the community. Prior to teaching an APPLES course, faculty should continue conversations with community partners to confirm plans and to further discuss details.
The Service-Learning Series (above) is available for faculty teaching service-learning and provides an overview of service-learning, resources of course development, approaches to community partnerships and strategies for incorporating reflection.
Faculty should include information in the syllabus about specifics relating to service learning, including:
- A statement about why service-learning is integrated into the course
- Information about the community partners working with the course
- How students will demonstrate what they are learning in relation to the service and course content
Once a course is developed the syllabus is reviewed by APPLES and submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Curricula for experiential education designation. Faculty must notify the APPLES office about teaching a service-learning course two months prior to the first day of student registration.
A few weeks prior to the start of the semester, it is recommended to email enrolled students about the details of an APPLES course. This can confirm the commitment and intention of students and can even allow the students to begin volunteering as early as possible when the semester begins.
Faculty considering to develop or teach a service-learning course should contact Becca Bender.
APPLES maintains a service-learning syllabi bank and syllabi are available upon request. A sampling of APPLES course syllabi are available and are useful in understanding the different approaches and applications of service-learning across disciplines.