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  Engage Students in the
     Community, the
   Classroom, and Your

Angela M. Thompson & Catherine M. MacDonald
St. Francis Xavier University & McGill University

Engage Students in the Community, the
  Classroom, and Your Assignments
•   Service learning is a pedagogic approach with the potential for a
    powerful lasting influence on student learning and personal and
    social development. In addition to a unique opportunity to learn
    and experience academic course content, service learning with
    appropriate reflective assignments allows for self-discovery and
    the development of a strong sense of social responsibility. The
    presenters will identify the benefits of service learning, explain
    strategies for effective implementation and evaluation, and provide
    specific suggestions and practical examples for incorporating
    meaningful experiences into a variety of courses crossing many
•   keywords: service learning, self-reflection, social responsibility

Presentation Objectives/Overview
• ABCs of Service Learning
• Definition
• Rationale for inclusion
• Benefits:
   – Student
   – Instructor
   – Community
   – University
• Strategies for implementation
• Methods of evaluation
• Practical examples

      ABCs of Service Learning
• Instructions:
   – Find a partner/group of three to work with (people
     you do not know )
      • Introduce yourself
          – name, university/college, why did you chose
            this session
   – Work together. Complete the ABC sheet by putting
     in a word for every letter of the alphabet that
     relates to Service Learning
      • A = abstract thinking
   – When you are done, stand up

       Service Learning Defined
• A pedagogic approach
• A viable method that links theory from lectures
  and discussions to the “real world” (Dicklitch, 2003)
• Persuades students to experience their subject
  (or theory discussed in class and/or lectures) in
  an immediate or real way
• Encourages students to interpret their
  experience and learn effectively from it (Barrow,
  Hofrenning, & Parkhurst, 2005)

        Service Learning Defined
• Encourages students to connect their personal
  goals, values, and academic studies to their real-
  world encounters (Eyler, 2002)
• Catalyzes students’ academic and self-
  development while promoting broader notions of
  social responsibility through the links fostered
  between the town (i.e., community) and gown
  (i.e., university/colleges) (Eyler, 2002; Matthews-Gardner,
  Fitzgerald, & Gitelson, 2005)

           Service Learning Defined
    Not volunteering or experiential learning
•   Service learning differs from volunteer work because
    of the academic component
    – no grade for the volunteer work – only for the
•   Service learning differs from experiential learning
    1. All involved parties should benefit with the needs of
       the students balanced with the needs of the
       community (Karaskik, 2007)
    2. Reflection is a major facet so the service and
       academic components are also mutually reinforcing
      (Astin et al., 2000)
    3. Elicits and develops responsible citizenship (Madsen &
      Turnbull, 2006)

Why include Service Learning in
   your teaching methods?
• To expand your teaching repertoire
  – i.e., to add variety to your teaching methods
• To deepen your understanding of your students
  and their academic and professional needs
• Extends learning beyond the classroom
• Encourages the development of lifelong career
  and professional skills
• Advances social awareness and citizen

  Keep in mind the inclusion of
        Service Learning
    requires/demands more
preparation time - particularly in
         the beginning

Benefits of Service
Learning: Student

    Benefits of Service Learning:
• Hands-on experience improves students’ perceptions
  of the individuals they work with (Hardin, 2005)
• Improved grades (Moser & Rogers, 2005)
• Enhanced understanding of course content (Strange,
• A different learning approach (Bishop & Driver, 2007)
• Increased relevance of course (Hardin, 2005)
   – bridges gap between theory and practice
• Exposure to new careers/fields of study (LaMaster, 2001)
  or confirms/refutes career plans

  Benefits of Service Learning:
• Develop problem solving skills
• Improve self confidence and basic social
• Cultivate leadership potential
• (often, not always), confront issues of
  diversity (when working with people from
  different cultural backgrounds)
                            Joseph et al., 2007

 Benefits of Service
 Learning: Student
Thompson Research (in review)

   Benefits of Service Learning:
      Student – Thompson (in review)
• Service learning: a pedagogic technique and
  preparation for the “real world”
   – With five years of data combined, 414 students
     from nine course offerings provided short-term
   – 64/376 graduated students provided data on the
     long(er)-term influence of their service learning
     experiences as well as the perceived benefits in
     regards to career preparation

Service learning: a pedagogic
technique and preparation for
 the “real world”: short term

Table 1: Sample description for the short term influence of service learning experiences.

                                                 02-03     03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07
                                   Sample size     27        74    96   107   110
                               Percent female    51.9%     67.6% 62.9% 66.7% 64.5%
                               Percent seniors   77.8%     73.0% 88.7% 90.7% 87.3%
     Percent of students with prior volunteer
                                 experience(s)   92.6%     87.7% 95.9% 87.0% 90.9%
    Percent of students who participated in a
      group activity for their volunteer work    55.6%     75.3% 61.9% 84.9% 83.6%

Table 2a: Students’ self-reported feedback on the short-term influence of their service
learning experience (mean ± SD)

 Year of data collection    02-03      03-04      03-04      04-05       04-05       05-06
                   Class    HKIN       HKIN       HKIN       HKIN        HKIN        HKIN
                             426        425        426        425         426         425
                                       n = 34     n = 40     n = 54      n = 42      n = 54
     Through my service
   learning experience, I
 learned more about the      NA       8.4 ± 0.8 8.2 ± 1.1  7.5 ± 1.3     8.0 ± 1.1 7.8 ±   1.0
   community and needs
                of others.
     My service learning
  experiences helped me
integrate course content     NA       6.5 ± 2.0 8.4 ± 0.9  7.4 ± 1.4     8.1 ± 1.0 7.2 ±   1.6
           with hands on
     Through my service
   learning experience, I
            improved my      NA       8.1 ± 1.1 8.1 ± 1.4  8.0 ± 1.0     8.2 ± 1.0 8.1 ±   1.0
     communication and
        leadership skills.
    Overall I had a good
         service learning    NA       8.7 ± 0.9 8.5 ± 0.9  7.4 ± 1.4     8.6 ± 0.7 8.2 ±   1.3
* NA = not available. Likert-type scale where scores from 1 to 9; 1 = strongly
disagree/diminished knowledge/skills and 9 = strongly agree/improved knowledge/skills

Table 2b: Students’ self-reported feedback on the short-term influence of their service
learning experience (mean ± SD)
                                                               05-06      06-07      06-07
                                                               HKIN      HKIN       HKIN
                                                                 426       425        426
                                                               n = 53    n = 56     n = 54
  Please rate the degree to which your service learning
   experience affected your knowledge in the following
                          Understanding of course content     7.4 ± 1.3 7.5 ± 1.3 7.8 ± 1.2
                Awareness of community needs and issues       7.8 ± 1.0 7.5 ± 1.2 7.8 ± 1.2
                              Awareness of needs of others    8.2 ± 0.8 7.7 ± 1.2 8.0 ± 0.9
 Please rate the degree to which the following skills were
                             Written communication skills     5.9 ± 1.5 4.9 ± 0.9 5.2 ± 1.0
                              Verbal communication skills     8.0 ± 1.1 7.8 ± 1.2 7.6 ± 1.3
                                          Leadership skills   8.1 ± 1.0 8.0 ± 1.0 7.9 ± 1.2
         Overall, I had a good service learning experience    8.3 ± 1.4 8.3 ± 1.3 8.5 ± 1.1
* Likert-type scale where scores from 1 to 9; 1 = strongly disagree/diminished
knowledge/skills and 9 = strongly agree/improved knowledge/skills

• If service learning was optional, why did you
  choose to participate?
  – for the experience
  – to work with children and/or adolescents
  – I want to be a teacher/work with children
  – to be involved in the community
  – for fun … to avoid the long term paper

• What do you think were the main benefits
  or achievements of your participation in
  service learning?
  – skill development
  – preparation for future career
  – helping others
  – working with children
  – better understanding of course

• What factors most helped you benefit from
  the service learning experience?
  – working with peers
  – good supervisors/people to work with
  – hands on experience
  – being a Human Kinetics student/the
    reflective assignment

How do you anticipate that your service
   learning experience fits into your education
   (courses at StFX, further studies, other)?
  –   a perfect fit, I want to be a teacher
      •   confirmed/affirmed/refuted career plans
      •   developed practical skills
          – teaching
          – communication
          – organization
          – leadership
          – cooperation
  –   help me to get “in”
  –   to understand course materials
  –   to understand the community

Any Questions?

 Service learning: a pedagogic
 technique and preparation for
the “real world”: long(er) term

• Sample description:
  – 70.4% female (n = 45)
  – 39.1% (n = 25) graduated in 2007; 4.7%
    in 2002 (n = 3)
  – 82.8% (n = 53) attended another college
    or university after graduating
  – 43.8% (n = 28) were employed full time;
    42.2% (n = 27) were studying
  – 65.6% (n = 42) participated in both

Why did you choose to participate in Service
  – to get experience working with children
  – to give back to the community
  – to “beef up” my resume/application for
  – because it was required
  – to have fun, to be physically active, because I
    had a great time volunteering before
  – to develop communication and/or leadership

• What were the main benefits from participating in
  Service Learning?
   – skill/confidence development – collaboration,
     communication, problem solving, time management,
     organization, leadership
   – experience working with children – interacting, speaking,
     playing, becoming comfortable with different ages, etc.
   – community involvement/giving back to the
     community/community contacts
   – putting theory into practice/better understanding of course
   – working with classmates/peers
   – confirmed/refuted/assisted with career selection and/or built

• In what ways did your Service Learning
  experience(s) help you to further your
  – directly on my application for a B.Ed., in the
    interview, and in the program
  – directed my career choice – i.e., confirmed I
    wanted to teach or directed me elsewhere
  – facilitated learning of class material – theory to
    practice and knowledge of children
  – skill development

• In what ways did your Service Learning
  experience(s) help you in fulfilling your career
   – confirmed desire for a particular occupation (i.e.,
     teaching) and/or confirmed desire to NOT be a
     teacher/work with children or youth
   – skill development – so that I can be better at what I
     do; use the skills learned and put them into
     practice in my current work
   – provided access/assisted with getting into
     program of choice

• What would you say to a current student who was
  offered the option of participating in Service
  – Do it!
  – An excellent experience – feels good to be involved, to give
    back to the community, to make a difference in a child’s life
  – An opportunity to learn more about yourself and/or to
    develop personal and professional skills
  – An opportunity to find out if your career of choice is for you
    … to find a career
  – An excellent opportunity, a unique offering that should not
    be missed! Immerse yourself in it.
  – A fun experience … a stress reliever … something different
    than hitting the books!

Any Questions?

 Benefits of Service
Learning: Instructor

    Benefits of Service Learning:
• Additional teaching/learning to meet course objectives
  (Prentice & Garcia, 2000)
   – Enriches and enlivens teaching and learning
   – Improves satisfaction of quality of student learning   (Eyler, Giles,
      Stenson, & Gray, 2001)
• Strengthen/deepen faculty-student relationships (Chabot &
  Hoben, 2003)
• Opportunity to further/expand research (Chabot & Hoben, 2003)
• Increased connection to the community (Bishop & Driver, 2007)
• Increases opportunities for professional recognition and

Benefits of Service

   Benefits of Service Learning:
• Extra help – in ways that the community
  needs (as determined by the community) –
  that may not otherwise be provided (Bishop & Driver,

   – i.e., access to human resources (Clarke, 2000)
• Empowers community members (Clarke, 2000)
• Improved town and gown connections (Eyler,
• Enhanced support for community initiatives
  (Eyler, et al., 2001)

Benefits of Service

    Benefits of Service Learning:
• Improved perception of the “gown” by the “town”
   – i.e., enhanced community relations
   – i.e., improved profile in the community (Driscoll, Holland, Gelmon,
      Kerrigan, 1996)
• “…transform college/universities from disengaged ivory towers
  to institutional citizens” (Mpofu, 2007, p. 46)
• Enhances students socially responsive knowledge, thereby
  advancing an institution‘s dedication to scholarship (Stukas, Clary,
  & Snyder, 1999)
• Advance other important goals of the institution (i.e.,
  fundraising, enrollment, grants) (Driscoll et al., 1996)

  Strategies/Process to
Implement Service Learning

      Strategies/Process to
    Implement Service Learning
• Determine institutional “buy in” for Service Learning
   – Create “buy in”; you may need to be the innovator 
• Contact the Service Learning Centre/Office at your
  University/College; they will -
   – Determine community need
   – Assistant with curriculum implementation, connection to
     community, administrative concerns, etc.
• If you do not have a Service Learning Centre, are
  there resources available to assist you? Other
  faculty who can provide guidance? Others?

     Strategies/Process to
   Implement Service Learning
• Contact agencies (may be done personel in Service
  Learning Centre)
• Create community partnerships
   – Generally done by personnel in Service Learning Centres
• Respond to community need; therefore community
  may also come to you
• Ensure that the “need” reflects/allows for student
  learning/experience of curriculum objectives

        Strategies/Process to
      Implement Service Learning
Determine Service Learning objectives and goals:
1.   What do I want my students to “get” from Service Learning?
2.   How is Service Learning relevant/applicable to the course
3. How will this task (i.e. the volunteer work) help my students
     learn about the academic content of the course?
4. How do I grade Service Learning? How much will it be worth?
   - Only the assignment is graded – NOT the volunteer work
5. What materials will my students need? Who will provide the
     materials?                               (Bishop & Driver, 2007)

     Strategies/Process to
   Implement Service Learning
Create paper work/preparations for students’
  Service Learning experience
• Guidelines how to proceed
   – Training session(?)
• Expectations of students in and out of their
• Service Learning contract – signed by student,
  community, professor
• Assignment(s) and/or examination(s)

      Strategies/Process to
    Implement Service Learning
Incorporate Service Learning in to your
• Value of assignment (no grade for the volunteer
• Consider hours of volunteer work required (at StFX
  minimum 15 hours; at McGill minimum 20 hours)
   – Generally 15-20 per term is considered most
     efficient/sufficient (Gujarathi & McQuade, 2002)

Methods of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation – see also
• Written Report (Payne, 2000)
    – most common; may or may not include weekly reflections plus
      summary of overall experience
• Presentation (Payne, 2000)
    – individual or group
    – dramatization
• Focus groups or individual interviews (Driscoll et al., 1998) with or
  without structured questions
• Portfolios (Payne, 2000)
    –   weekly reflection
    –   overall summary of experiences
    –   photographs
    –   art work
    –   poetry

Methods of Evaluation – see also
• Questions you might ask:
  – What problems/issues did you encounter in your volunteer
    experience? How did you resolve them? What would you
    do differently next time? Why?
  – Trace your understanding of ….. Use your weekly reflections
    to provided evidence of what you learned from your service
    learning experiences
  – What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
  – In what way will you be a better ….. ? (this may include
    parent, citizen, etc.)
  – What skills did you develop/enhance as a result of this

Practical Examples

          Practical Examples
• Project Double Challenge
  – University-based motor skills and
    aquatics program for students with a

     Project Double Challenge
• Students plan, implement, and evaluate a physical
  activity program
   – Based on theory and ‘best practice’
• Program runs for 10 weeks, 2 hours per week
• Students complete a detailed end-of-term assignment
  incorporating theory and practice
• Students receive ongoing support from the professor
  and teaching assistants in class and via online

             Practical Examples
• Fit for Life
   – 10 week; 2x/week, one
     hour after school
     physical activity program
     for children in grades 3 to
   – Delivered by ~ 40-50
      • Each student has a
        different “role” each day
      • + each day, encourage
        and facilitate active
   – Debriefing sessions held
     regularly – in and out of

          Practical Examples
• Tutoring – working one-on-one or in group
• Sport settings – coaching/teaching skills
• Daycare settings – reading, playing, assisting
  program directors
• Special Olympics – working with athletes with
  physical and/or intellectual disabilities
• One-on-one mentoring/role modeling

Practical Examples

  What do you think?

               Practical Examples
•   Veterinary school students providing spaying and neutering to the
    local humane society
•   Dentistry students providing services in inner cities and/or group
•   Forestry/ecology/environmental studies students engaging in local
    clean ups, reforestation efforts, etc.
•   Nursing students providing immunizations in senior care facilities
•   History students creating posters/presentations about “local”
    historical interests
•   Language students creating documentaries about the culture of the
    language being studied
•   Sociology/psychology students sharing time with those in the latter
    stages of life
•   Nutrition students evaluating and modifying menus in hospitals, senior
    care facilities, etc.

      Thank you!

       Angie Thompson
       Cathy MacDonald

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