There are a number of special considerations for faculty when designing and teaching a community-engaged learning course. Prior to implementing engaged learning, faculty will have to establish an appropriate relationship with a community partner, communicate expectations, choose classroom activities that support the service, and develop assessment tools to evaluate student learning.
Below is a rough timeline of things to consider when planning your course. The precise timing depends on whether the course is new or has been offered before, how much time you have to prepare, departmental differences and individual preference. Although this timeline is not exhaustive or relevant to every course, it is a general guide for those teaching community-engaged courses.
- Determine the broad goals of your course
- Decide how community engagement will fit in the course (one assignment, entire course, etc.)
- Locate a community partner
- Screen potential students (if course is “by permission of instructor”)
- Articulate learning objectives for your course
- Identify appropriate classroom strategies to support the community-engaged learning, such as readings or lectures
- Choose appropriate reflection exercises
- Ensure the alignment of objectives, assessments and instructional strategies
- Write a tentative syllabus
- Develop appropriate forms for working with community partner (needs assessment, student evaluations, final evaluation, etc.)
- Meet with community partner to discuss issues of scale, scope, final product and any requirements (such as attendance at presentations)
- Coordinate schedule for semester with community partner
- Draft memorandum of understanding
- Work out transportation arrangements
- Formalize agreement with community partner
- Finalize plans with partner (deliverables, schedule, location of meetings, expectations for evaluation, etc.)
The following resources will also help you get started on designing a community-engaged course:
- Service Learning/Social Justice Curriculum Development Framework. Source: The Service Learning Institute, California State University, Monterey Bay.
- Eyler, J., Giles, Jr., D. E., Stenson, C. M., & Gray, C. J. (2001). At a glance: What we know about the effects of service learning on college students,
faculty, institutions, and communities, 1993-2000: Third Edition. Vanderbilt University.
- Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (1995). A service-learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal for Community Service-Learning, 2, 112-122.
- Principles of Good Practice for Service-Learning Pedagogy
Excerpted from Howard, Jeffery, ed. (2001). Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning: Service-Learning Course Design Workbook, University of Michigan, OCSL, pp. 16-19.
- Amulya, Joy. (2004).Guide to Integrating Reflection into Field-Based Courses. Center for Reflective Community Practice, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT. Inquiry-driven and critical analysis strategies from MIT for effectively facilitating student reflection in field-based courses.
- A list of service-learning syllabi for over 80 disciplines in higher education.