Service-Learning Ideas

From The Prout Research Institute Service-learning Toolkit


1. Sparking Ideas & Meeting Needs

Issues Wall: Students post newspaper articles, graphics, drawings, essays and internet searches on a wall in the classroom about passionate issues. Then they discuss priority areas to develop a project.

Teach-in: Students identify community partners and local experts to offer dialogues and presentations across the campus on priority issues. Students meet together in setting goals for a service-learning process.

2. Planning

A bus tour allows you to see alley ways that need clean-up; rivers that need reforestation; areas of dilapidated buildings; as well as inspiring sites such as a great community center, an organic farm, a great sports facility, etc.

3. Addressing Academic & Other Competencies

4. Partner Collaboration

Portfolios: Each student in collaboration with the teacher compiles a portfolio that may contain:
1. Journal writing reflecting on all aspects of the project.
2. Planning notes and charts
3. Photographs of projects
4. Letters from those served
5. Research notes or print-outs
6. Evaluations and Observations
7. Final Presentations

Partner Informed Process:
1. Observations of teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking skills
2. Feedback from clients and co-workers
3. Evaluation of project from the point of view of partner

5. Reflection in Service-Learning.

Reflection can occur through free form writing for students who learn best without structure or directed writing with prompts and questions about the service-learning experience for students who thrive with structure. Students reflect in groups along with teacher and partner groups or can paint murals, dance or develop a drama.

I learned what it meant to look at an issue and break it down, to see the inter-connectedness and the complexity of an issue such as homelessness, to brainstorm and initiate strategies that addressed root causes and to avoid slapping a “Band-Aid” on symptoms. – College Student

6. The stages of civic engagement & social justice about toxic waste

  • Students used their science skills to investigate toxic waste at a public dump.
  • Students surveyed the community to understand the impact of the site on human health.
  • Students developed a presentation on their findings to the local community and the city council.
  • The city council agreed to investigate the site.
  • The increased awareness of the project in the community led to protests to close down the site.
  • Student presentations led to a study of the correlation between lower income sites and the larger issue of toxic waste, lack of tree cover, park space, and open space across communities.

7. Evaluation: Student Service-Learning Survey

Questions will help students think about their service learning experience, and if it made a difference in their life and in the lives of others. So it assists planning for the next service-learning project and convinces supporters of the benefits.

Students, please circle the most accurate response.
4= Very much  3=Some  2=not much  1=Not at all

1. I provided a needed service to the community.

        1        2        3        4

2. Now I think and care more about other people.

        1        2        3        4

3. I got to know the underlying causes and problems behind the issue that we addressed.

        1        2        3        4

4. I feel more positive about others.

        1        2        3        4

5. My writing and reading skills improved in the process.

        1        2        3        4

6. I know how to work with and help people who are different from me.

        1        2        3        4

8. Celebration and Presentation

  • Presentations & Celebrations are a demonstration of what was learned in the service-learning project. They may include reflections, photos of the project, letters from program participants, or digital films.
  • Presentations & Celebrations may represent advocacy for a needed civic engagement project and can be held in a public place, or presented at a local city council meeting or at a conference. They may also be combined with a community festival.