Definition and Goals of Service Learning

For students, service learning is an opportunity to enrich and apply knowledge
learned in the classroom in applied settings.  It involves active learning Ė
drawing lessons from the experience of performing service work.  Your service
experience also is an opportunity for you to learn about the context in which the
service is provided and the connection between the service and your academic
course work.

Service Learning will provide you with the opportunity to:

Learn social responsibility and citizenship skills.
Develop an ethic of service.
Develop civic awareness.
Apply concepts learned in the classroom.
Acquire program development skills.
Develop personality.
Gain academically.
Give something back to the community.
Experience first-hand a potential major field of study.
Establish contacts and possible future employment.
Gain experience which is a prerequisite for many jobs.

Components of Effective Service-Learning

There are three basic components of effective service-learning:

1.     Sufficient preparation, which includes setting objectives for the skills to be
         learned or issues to be considered; and includes planning projects so they
         contribute to learning at the same time that work gets done.
2.     The act of performing the actual service.

3.     An analysis of the experience and the lessons learned, along with the sharing
         of the experience with others as a way to reflect on the experience and its
         implications.  This is a way to identify and absorb what has been learned.

Thinking about the service also creates a greater understanding of the experience
and the way service addresses the needs of the community.  It also promotes a
concern about community issues and a commitment to be involved as an active

Outcomes of Service Learning

Service Learning then is a connection of theory and practice that puts concepts
into concrete form and provides a context for understanding abstract matter.  This
provides an opportunity to test and refine theories as well as introduce new

Service Learning also uses knowledge with a historical understanding or
appreciation of social, economic and environmental implications as well as
moral and ethical ramifications of peopleís actions.  This involves a strong use
of communication, interpersonal and technical skills.

Service Learning also involves collecting and evaluating data, relating seemingly
unrelated matters and ideas; and investigating a self-directed learning which includes
inquiry, logical thinking and a relation of ideas and experience.  A transference of
learning from one context to another will allow for the opportunity to reflect,
conceptualize and apply experience-based knowledge.

Reflection: The Most Critical Aspect of Service Learning

Critical reflection is an important part of your service learning and is what distinguishes service learning from other forms of experiential education.  Reflection links the
community service experience with course materials, such as readings and lectures.  Reflective tools include:

Keeping a journal
Writing portfolios
In-class presentations

Your reflective narrative is a major component of your grade.  The guiding questions
listed below are designed to help you with your thinking and presentation.

Guiding Questions for Service Experience

Listed below are the specific questions that should guide your thinking,
development, and the outcomes of your service experience. Answers to
these questions should be included in your written report:

What are the criteria for selection of your site?

How is this site specifically related to the field of psychology?

What skills would you like to develop from this experience?

Are there any particular careers in psychology related to this experience?

What specific course content in your textbook, from discussions in
class, the web component of this course, or from supplementary
readings relate to this service?     

What particular theories and concepts from the course can you
apply to your service learning experience?

What lessons did you learn from the experience? What did you
contribute to the experience?

What was the expressed or stated impact of your service on the
organization? (Note: You should receive feedback from the
organizationís administrator in your exit interview. You should also
distribute and pick up the evaluation form during the exit interview.)

Was service learning an effective way to make class material
more meaningful?

What are the implications of your experience in this setting?
Can you transfer this knowledge to your life and other
 professional experiences?

Student Requirements

         Eight (8) or more hours of community service in a
 psychology related organization.

The development and implementation of a program proposed
 by you for the organization or a project designated
 specifically for you by the organization.

A letter of understanding written by you and given to the administrator
 of the site once you have negotiated entry and received approval to do service.  
This letter should indicate the specific service contributions
you will provide as agreed upon between you and the organizationís
 administrator.  A copy of this letter should be included
 in your final report submitted to your instructor.

Keep a journal of your activities and reflections while in the site,
including your first and daily impressions, your responsibilities
 and activities, and reactions to your presence in the setting.
Your journal can be a combination of written and photographic or
 video-recorded essay.

Completion of evaluation form by the student.

Completion of evaluation form by the organization.

Get written verification from an administrator in the setting in which you
do service for submission to your instructor along with your written report.
 This letter should be written on the organizationís official stationary
and include the dates and time  you provided service as well as the
 total number of hours contributed. Place letter
   as an appendix to your final report.

Submit a final written report on your service experience with reflection
and analysis of the experience, answering the questions outlined above.
 This report may also include attachments such as the organizationís brochure
 and other information, or photographs of your experiences and activities in the
 setting.  These may be attached in the appendix or as part of your
 paper. All reports are to be typewritten and presented formally
with a cover page, etc.  Reports should be 3 to 10 pages in length.

You are required to make a presentation to the class of your service
experience.  You should also address other issues such as placement
 problems, disappointments, and integration of service with readings,
classroom discussion and lectures.

Organizational Expectations

An agency may expect some of the following from student volunteers:

Being responsible.
Regular attendance.
Willingness to stay for the duration of a shift.
A positive attitude and an attitude of service.
Respect toward the organizationís environment.
Fulfillment of duties and responsibilities.
Feedback on the appropriateness of assigned task(s).
Openness to learn about other cultures and groups.
Asking intelligent questions that allow you to learn the true nature of the
organizationís work and mission.

Service Learning Evaluation

Your professor will make an assessment of your service learning
using some of the following criteria:

Relationship of the setting to psychology and course content.
Written reflections on service experience.
Level and quality of the work performed or program implemented.
Whether student connects service experience with psychology
content and theories.
Whether the service experience demonstrates learning by the student.
The format in which the service project is displayed and presented.
Whether the report includes a verification that the student was in the
Includes evaluation of the experience by the student and the organization.

 You can download Service Learning Packet from this web page below.

Examples of Activities and Sites of Service Learning Projects

Friendship House, Leesburg, VA
Student worked in psychosocial rehabilitation program providing
psychiatric services to seriously mental ill patients.
Student interacted with patients and attended
 community & group meetings.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Brunswick, MD
Student assisted with raising puppies and training
them for the organization.

Franklin Barn Children's Center, Herndon, VA
Student worked with 20 children, ages 5-6 years
 in a variety of educational activities.

Open Arms Christian Child Development Center,
Ashburn, VA
Student worked with 2 year olds.  She read stories,
developed structured play activities and distributed snacks.
Student developed photographic essay and journal of her experiences.
 This Service Learning Project won
"The Best of Fair" Award at the Spring Juried Psychology Fair.

3 Group Service Learning Team Projects:

--Service Learning Day--
Students educated faculty, staff and the community about service
learning.  Invited a YMCA senior executive as guest speaker.
 Distributed literature, buttons, SL magnets
 and other  souvenirs for participants.

--Drink Pure Water Campaign: "I Know How I Like My Water,
But How Do You Like Yours?
Sam's Club, Dulles Plaza Crossing Shopping Center
Students distributed approximately 5,000 bottles of water to the public and
distributed literature. Students also developed an elaborate
poster display with resource listings and web sites. Literature included:

--Everything You Wanted to Know About Drinking Water But Don't Know Who To Ask--
--The Importance of Water to Human Health--
--Why Mineral Water is the Best Drinking Water--
--Top Ten Reasons We Need to Drink Water--
--What are the Health Effects of Contaminants in Drinking Water?--
--Annotated Links to Drinking Water Related Sites--
--Drinking Water Concerns--
--Children and the Risks of Contaminated Water--
--Pregnancy and Drinking Water Contamination--

Lifespan Human Development Students Visits
Sunrise Center, Leesburg, VA

As final class project for segment on aging, death and dying,
the class spent a half day at Sunrise Nursing Center in Leesburg, VA.
Students made handcrafted greeting cards for residents, each with a poem.  
Students made art drawings and played and sang music with instruments.
 A student guitarist serenaded the group.


Scenes from December 2003 Service Learning Symposium

"Building Bridges, Making Connections: Colleges and Communities Uniting in Partnership"

Presenter, GMU                                                         SL Community Recipient                        Professor,  NVCC

Professor, Wagner College                          Wagner Student-Poster Presentation                            Luncheon Student Roundtable

Lunch                                                                          Community Panel                                        Campus Compact  Presenters

Keynote Speaker                           Professor, Wagner College                                         Professor, NVCC

Scenes from Service Learning Institute
Center for Innovative Technology, May 2003
"Partnering With the American Red Cross"

Student Opening Institute                                                                    Trainer, American Red Cross                                       Facilitator, CCBC-Catonsville Campus

                     Participants                                                        Faculty

Service Learning Links

Corporation for National and Community Service

Learn and Service America Exchange

National Service Learning Clearinghouse

National Service Learning Exchange

National Society for Experiential Education

Points of Light Foundation

Service Learning on the World Wide Web

UCLA Service Learning Clearinghouse Project

SL.Pres.ppt (59KB)

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Guidelines - Service Learning - Student Packet in Adobe PDF
 Go to Psy201-202 Under Lessons and Handouts - Downloadables in Adobe PDF