To begin organizing and constructing your service-learning course, consider the elements and four basic principles:
(1) Engagement-Does the service meet a real community need? Has that been defined by our local community? How?
(2) Reflection-Do you have mechanisms built throughout the semester to support students in making connections between the course content and service experiences?
(3) Reciprocity-Is the partnership going to provide for mutually beneficial outcomes for students and the community partners? Do both serve as teacher and learner equally?
(4) Public Dissemination-Is the outcome of the service activity/project presented to the organization for current and future use? How?
As you begin to integrate service-learning into your course syllabus, keep the following in mind and include:
- service listed among the goals for the civic value of contributing to our local or global community, but also to serve as a "text" through which students will learn about the subject matter
- a clear description of how the service experience will be evaluated and what will be measured (see best practices)
- an overview of the nonprofit organization(s), the need(s) being addressed, and the service role(s) and/or project
- Expectations and responsibilities of students (e.g. start and end dates, transportation, time requirements, community contracts)