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There are many ways in which faculty can facilitate reflection among students. Below are several very successful methods the office of service-learning and community engagement suggests utilizing. The following is adapted from the Service-Learning Faculty Handbook, The Service-Learning Center, Virginia Tech.
These need not be focused on the service aspect of the students’ experiences, but course concepts. Discussions offer a forum which encourage students (both traditional and service-learning) to process and relate what they are studying, doing and learning, and is an opportunity for the instructor to emphasize key concepts through the examples provided by the students.
It is important to guide students in their journals or blogs so that they are not simply logs of events. The students should be encouraged to address objective events, subjective impressions and an analytic response, at the very least, in each journal entry. In addition, some instructors include specific guided questions which assist students to integrate their experience with particular course concepts. Journals are reviewed periodically by the faculty member during the semester. If students are utilizing a blog, the faculty member is able to leave comments and/or additional questions for the student, and can be notified via e-mail when the student responds to these questions or comments.
In the classroom, students explore a broad concept or issue by examining its impact on a local entity, incorporating the experience of the service-learning students whose service addresses the issue. For instance, students might study the availability of health care in the community in studying the local free clinic.
In contrast with traditional research papers, service-learners can incorporate examples from their service experiences with course material to demonstrate their learning. Analytical papers might include:
Compiling an array of materials related to their service, portfolios help contextualize students’ experiences. Some service learning portfolios consist of other reflection elements, such as a journal, a paper or a presentation. They can also hold artifacts from the service project such as pictures, brochures, newspaper clippings, articles, etc. Both faculty and students can be very creative with the portfolio concept and find many ways to use it.
A wiki is a website that allows all users to edit what appears on a website. This type of website is an excellent way for students to share, post and discuss photos, news articles and resources collected and created over a semester of service-learning. Students can post upcoming events at their agencies, share their experiences at their community agency, etc. Wikis give the opportunity for anyone in the community to contribute, including professors and community partners.
Following the same format as the analytical paper, students can describe, evaluate and integrate their service with the course, while also using visual materials and responding to questions to convey their learning to the instructor and class.
Students write about their service experience in relation to assigned course readings. The questions you formulate for their responses can be open-ended or pointed in helping students think critically about the academic material in a real-world context. This activity can be particularly valuable when the readings incorporate similar issues as those being confronted by the students (in their service agencies and projects).
Via electronic or in-class forum groups, students respond in writing to discussion questions and to each other. Each student should talk about or post a response to the week’s reflection question and a response to at least one other student’s entry. Some discussion questions may be directly related to course reading, others may be more open-ended regarding their service or personal perceptions and experiences. You respond to students as appropriate and can use their entries in the forum for future discussion topics.
Center for International Studies
Center for Research and Scholarship Support
Center for Teaching Excellence & Learning
Metropolitan Studies Institute
Dr. Abraham Goldberg
Director of Service-Learning and Community Engagement
Associate Professor of Political Science Campus Life Center 202864-503-5670
Associate Director of Metropolitan EngagementAdmin 326F864-503-7366
Heather RossiVolunteer Program CoordinatorCampus Life Center, 202864-503-5106
Charlie LaferAmeriCorps VISTA Campus Life Center, 202864-503-7200
Graduate Assistant for Community Engagement
800 University Way
Spartanburg, SC 29303
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