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tennessee technological university

Student Affairs

Integrating Service with Academic Study

The Necessary First Steps

Step One: Resolving Doubts:

  • Is service learning about what we teach or is it about how we teach it?
  • When we emphasize the importance of reflection, are we speaking of the content of the discussion or the methods used during a session?
  • How can I make the service learning component an integral part of the course and not just another add-on assignment?

Step Two: Start with the Basics: who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.

  • Who are we teaching?
  • What content and information will we be teaching them?
  • When is the most appropriate time to teach this in the context of their education?
  • In what setting can students best learn this course material?
  • Why is it important to teach this content and to teach them in this manner?
  • And how can we be most successful in teaching this information?

Step Three: Identifying Course Competencies

  • Review the existing competencies and learning expectations (objectives) in the course. Look at areas where your current design and methods may not be the best fit for today’s community college students. Students want to be able to see a visible connection between what they are learning and how that affects their daily lives.
  • Most times, the course objectives are perfectly relevant, but the means by which we are “teaching” and the student is “learning” fails in terms of “connectivity.”

Step Four: Decide Which Objectives are Best Suited to Service Learning

  • Competencies and objectives best learned via active learning are better suited than those that remain in theoretical or intellectual mode. Demonstration of rote memorization of content is less suited to service learning than demonstration of an applied comprehension of the concept.
  • Each instructor must determine the fit of service learning to the particular course. The degree of importance of the course objective you choose may dictate the amount of service time required of the student. (But keep in mind that it is the LEARNING that matters, not the TIME.

TTU has partnered with Campus Compact to provide resources for faculty. Please visit the Campus Compact web site for example syllabi by discipline in the Resource Links of the Service Center web site.

Take a moment to fill out our Faculty Needs Assessment and we can help you to connect your course to service.

Faculty Needs Assessment

Recommendations for Student Assessment

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. The following recommendations are guidelines for how to conduct assessment for 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.
  • By helping students to distinguish between description and analysis, between emotional reactions and cognitive observations, faculty helps 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-on-one correspondence between hours served and knowledge gained or credit earned.
  • Nevertheless, a certain minimum or service hours may be needed to provide an experience of significant depth.
  • To preserve the academic integrity or service-learning, credit is not awarded for hours of service but rather for demonstrated learning based on that service.
  • Extra hours of service should not necessarily yield extra credit.
  • Giving early and regular feedback on students’ journal entries is a critical part of teaching students how to develop their reflection skills.

Authentic Assessment

  • Pre/Post Surveys
  • Oral Interviews
  • Stories
  • Journal Writing
  • Project Presentations
  • Exhibitions
  • Exams on Theory in Action
  • Constructed Response Items
  • Observation in the field
  • Portfolios
  • Movies
  • Pictures Slide shows
  • Other Multimedia Projects

Service Learning Course Evaluation Procedure

A course evaluation procedure has been developed in order to assess service learning on campus. We recommend that you use the following course evaluation procedure to assess the impact that service learning has on students. The procedure includes a Faculty Survey, in depth Pre- and Post-Service Student Surveys, and a Community Partner Survey.

Contact the Center for a copy of these assessment tools.

In addition to collecting data on courses that implement service learning, we are collecting data on students who choose to serve in their own capacity. The following documents are very short Pre-Service and Post-Service Surveys. We encourage faculty to send your students to the Service Center if they are interested in Service to the community.

General Student Pre-Service survey

General Student Post-Service survey