When devising the service-learning, or “action” component of your course, you will need to determine the time, duration, and intensity of the service so that it most effectively advances your desired student learning outcomes and your community partner’s needs. Students can serve individually or in groups, for short or long terms, and as a required or optional course component. The Office of Service-Learning conceptualizes the following approaches to, or models for, project implementation:
- Presentation model: Students apply course learning to the creation of presentations for audiences in the community such as youth, industry professionals, or policy-making entities. Often students work in groups to prepare presentations for one or more organizations or agencies, as prearranged by the instructor. Sometimes instructors require students to present more than once to stage out the information over the semester or to give students an opportunity to receive feedback, conduct further research, and make modifications. Many instructors have students do mock presentations in class before the official presentation. Examples include education students presenting an interactive reading workshop to public school children, environmental studies students presenting to city council members regarding prospects for local policy improvement, or architecture students presenting building plans to a city project manager (this also employs product and project models, below).
- Product model: Students–working alone or in groups–apply course material to the creation of a tangible product for an organization or agency. Products can include an instructional or training manual for a non-profit human resources division, an annual report for a local food bank or legal assistance organization, a policy paper in partnership with an environmental advocacy group, a digital history collection for a cultural preservation organization, an inventory system for a bicycle collective, a wall mural for an after school program; a news article for a homeless advocacy newspaper; or a water resources conservation plan for an urban development project.
- Project model: Under instructor supervision, students work individually or in small groups with a community partner to devise and implement a project in line with student learning objectives and community partner needs. Examples can include students working with middle and high school youth to identify issues of concern to them and implement strategies for advocacy or change around these issues; creating a secure data collection and management strategy for a refugee resource center; coordinating a clothing drive in partnership with an area shelter; or conducting an economic analysis of community issues for a local government agency or non-governmental organization.
- Placement model: Students are assigned to an organization or choose from among several placements that have been chosen by the instructor for their course, and work at these sites for around 4-10 hours per week throughout the semester. The service they provide is the conduit to their learning. They gain access to populations or issues related to their courses and, in return, provide needed assistance to the organizations and/or their clientele. Examples include tutoring youth, serving meals at a shelter, or planting crops at a community garden. When implementing the placement model, it is critical to supplement the service with pre-, during-, and post-service learning and reflection, in order to offer a meaningful learning experience to the students.
Implementation model descriptions adapted from The Service Learning Program at Marquette University