The purpose of this toolkit is to provide you with information, references, and resources that you may find helpful in brainstorming, creating, and reflecting upon a Service Learning Project within a specific class or the Serving to Learn Locally (890-105) course.
The Service Learning Center is located on both the Kenosha and Racine campuses with an AmeriCorps*VISTA member hosting the information. Our role is to help you find community partners to work with, assist in the placement of students, or to help answer questions you might have. For students, we also act as a liaison to assist in community partner issues, disputes, or problems that may arise. We are here to be as much or as little help as you want.
What is Service Learning?
Service learning is similar to volunteering in that you are giving of your time and skills to meet a community need and complete a project at a non-profit organization or community partner. The main differences are that you must be a part of a project that is meaningful and relevant to your area of study; and that you must complete a reflection project at the end of your experience that makes you think about what you did, why you did it, how it matters to your goals and the community's needs, and what it will matter 5 years from now.
The Benefits of Service Learning
- Increase your understanding of the class topic
- Gain hands-on experience (possibly leading to an internship or job later)
- Explore or cement your values and beliefs
- Have opportunities to act on your values and beliefs
- Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Grow your understanding of diverse cultures and communities
- Learn more about social issues and their root causes
- Improve your ability to handle ambiguity and be open to change; become more flexible
- Develop or enhance your skills, especially in the areas of communication, collaboration, and leadership
- Test out your skills, interests, and values in a potential career path, or learn more about a field that interests you
- Connect with professionals and community members who you will learn from
- Grow a professional network of people you might connect with again later for jobs or internships
- Satisfy your urge toward public service or civic participation
- Looks GREAT on a Résumé
What is Your Role?
- To be aware of the organization's needs and to provide assistance where and when it is needed.
- To contact the agency to arrange the initial meeting to discuss the service learning hours and project (The Service Learning Center can assist with this role).
- To adhere to the organization's rules and procedures, including the confidentiality of the organization and client information.
- To periodically reflect upon and reevaluate the service learning experience while keeping in mind the objectives of all parties involved.
- To operate with integrity and professionalism at all times; which includes being punctual, meeting deadlines and being open to supervision and feedback which will facilitate learning and personal growth.
Your Instructor's Role
As a faculty member, their role is to provide you, the student, with structure and guidance to process and reflect upon your service learning experiences. Also, they are to assist you in connecting your community-based learning experience with course learning objectives. They are also to participate in an evaluation process between you, the student, your community partner, and the Service Learning Center.
The Service Learning Center's Roles
The Service Learning Center is to act as a liaison between the organization, students, and faculty. We provide support and guidance for any challenges that may arise. We also act as a third contact in case of difficulties, challenges, or other problems that may arise at the community site for both community partner and student. We provide classroom service learning orientations and reflection sessions as requested. We assist with placing students into organizations or finding projects to suit the student. We also provide forms, instructions, resources, and materials that students, faculty, and the community partners may need/request for their service learning experience.