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Steps for Planning & Implementing a Service-Learning Course

Ready to get started planning your service-learning course? The below steps will help you plan and implement your course in a way that proves meaningful to all involved. At the end of this workbook you will find a checklist of these steps that you can employ as you move through your planning process.

  1. Discuss the service-learning course plans with your department chair. This is an important first step as you determine whether teaching a service-learning course is a good investment of your time and energy.
  2. Determine student learning outcomes for your course. Consider both academic and civic learning outcomes. Consult the Office of Service-Learning or the Teaching and Learning Center if you need assistance.
  3. Identify one or more possible community partners who can provide experiences to students in line with your intended learning outcomes for the course. Information about interested partners can be found on the Office of Service-Learning’s Partnership Opportunities webpage.
  4. Contact the organization/s to find out more about whether there is a good match. If the potential community partner is interested in learning more about what service-learning is, you can direct them to the UT Community Partner Guide to Service-Learning.
  5. Arrange to meet the community partner in person to discuss the objectives and details of the project. The Office of Service-Learning provides a Memorandum of Collaboration (MOC) to facilitate this process.
  6. Become familiar with the Risk Management Procedures for service-learning courses. Consider accessibility of the experience to students with disabilities, adult students, or students whose ethnic, racial, religious, sexual, or gender orientation might put them at risk in the service context. Note: Information about accommodations for students with disabilities can be found on the Office of Disability Services website.
  7. Develop structured reflection activities, assignments and assessments that align both with the academic and civic learning outcomes. In addition to the resources provided in this workbook, faculty can connect with the Office of Service-Learning and Teaching and Learning Center for ideas and examples. Reflection should be structured to connect the service to the course content, and all should be positioned to advance your intended academic and civic learning outcomes.
  8. Design a process for evaluating and improving the partnership with the community partner. The Office of Service-Learning’s Evaluation Forms are available for use by faculty and community partners to facilitate continuous improvement to the partnership and service experience.
  9. Check out the S-Designation information on the Office of Service-Learning website to determine if you would like to have your course designated.

The Office of Service-Learning is available to support faculty in every step of the service-learning process. Please contact us at servicelearning@utk.edu or 865-974-9577 for assistance.

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