Service Learning Steps to Success for Community Partners
Service learning is a teaching method that allows students to relate or apply what they learn in class to community-defined, real-life issues.
At KU students enrolled in a course may participate in community service either through direct service, by working with agency staff, or by advocating for a specific cause.
- Explore specific ways students could contribute, either as individual volunteers or through a class project.
- What never gets off your "to-do" list?
- What would your organization like to do that you can’t now?
- Getting started is often the hardest part. Begin with simple projects, then build.
- Will students be working directly with clients or will they be working with agency staff to advance the organizational mission?
- Tight collaborations need more planning up front; looser collaborations require checking in periodically for optimal results.
- Decide whether you want to work closely with a few classes, or more loosely with many classes.
- Get to know your faculty partners.
- Discuss goals and challenges early.
- Address service goals for your organization and learning goals for the students.
- Request service commitments of 20+ hours per student. You will improve your return on investment, and students will experience more.
- Work with faculty to define the student assignment, supervision, and reporting.
- Students will be more motivated if they have choices regarding their involvement and the importance of their contribution is clear.
- Clarify responsibilities and measures of accountability.
- Make sure students receive the proper training and orientation.
- Determine how your organization will evaluate and/or document student service.
- Keep evaluation and documentation measures simple.
- Ask students and the people served what is working and what is not.
- Discuss with your faculty partner what improvements could be made for a better collaboration.
- If a student calls at the last minute wanting volunteer hours, politely say “no,” and suggest he or she call ahead next time.