FAC Planning a course with Service Learning

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Bonner Center seeks to be a resource for faculty. We can assist faculty members who want to connect to community organizations or make service learning a part of their course work. 

Course Planning
Broadly speaking, the Bonner Center follows best practices outlined in ACCU's High Impact Educational Practices. If you are a science instructor you might also wish to consult the Science Education for New Community Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) Ideals, which are more detailed and consistent with the High Impact approach.


Bonner Center works with you to assist you in the development of your course. The Center encourages faculty members to link their class project to an existing Bonner Center community site. This is not required, we encourage use of existing sites and projects because they represent deep, ongoing relationships, usually with established, supportive infrastructure. Additionally, Bonner Center aims to build capacity by connecting college resources, expertise and skills to our partners' needs. The student site or project coordinator can assist in the development and plays a vital role as a liaison and daily organizer.
•  Contact us as soon as possible for a consultation. [LINK]

As you conceptualize your course and a Service Learning component, please consider these best practices:

• Service Learning should be an integral part of a student's significant work created for the course. In other words, Service Learning work should form the basis of the student's grade.
• Your learning outcomes should determine the role of Service Learning. Contact us to discuss how they might be achieved through our sites.
• There should be opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in class while they are on site.
• There should be reflective classroom sessions about students’ experiences.
• Please consult with us for ideas about how to make these connections.

Faculty typically assign between 20 and 30 hours of Service Learning hours.

• Of these assigned hours, students are required to register and complete 4 hours of on-campus Community Engagement Training plus X hours of Practicum.[LINK]
• Students must complete any additional on-site training according to the requirements of the community partner.
• Students that do not complete all training cannot be on any Bonner Center community site.

Scheduling, Time Frame and Launch

Site and project coordinators attempt to move quickly in coordination with community partners to ready sites for your students. To insure they get the most out of their experience and minimize conflicts, please use this framework as a guide to course schedule planning.
 Require or strongly recommend your students attend the Community Engagement Fair[LINK] held at the beginning of each semester. At these fairs your students can meet representatives of many of the Bonner Center community sites.
• Require or strongly recommend they participate in the College's Day of Service by signing up for a Bonner community site.
• The fastest way for them to be trained and ready to go on site if they to attend Community Service Institute (CSI) and complete Community Engagement Training [LINK]. Require or strongly recommend they attend.
• Students who do not attend CSI can still sign up and attend individual training sessions. [LINK]
• Early information and training means that your students will not be pressured in the middle and end of course to rush and complete their required hours. Most faculty realize the negative impact on students who start late. In some cases coordinators and host partners will not be able to accept late volunteers.

Faculty Oversight and Management

You have access to Google forms' online data (spreadsheet) that your students use to weekly sign in hours.
•  The Bonner Center Volunteer Training Coordinator and site or project coordinator also has access to this data.


Bonner Center staff work to minimize your problems and to build strong relationships among community partners, community members, students, campus partners, faculty members and students.
•  The Volunteer Training Coordinator refers all instructor-related issues to you.
•  The site or project coordinator might directly contact you about matters that affect your course and students.

•  We work in close partnership with you to bring a powerful learning experience to your students. 

First you need to know Bonner’s work to decide if there’s a community learning experience that fits your course's learning outcomes. Our site lists can give you some ideas, but not their full potential. For eg, an ESOL site became the springboard for criminal court work.
     • Here is a list of current sites. 
     • If there is no site that seems to fit your needs, then we might suggest to you partners and possible start-up sites.

Your course schedule must have built-in flexibility and contingency plans that can shift assignments according to changing community conditions. These changes can be valuable teaching moments for students, but only if you’re comfortable adjusting with them.
     • A course made of discrete modules has the ability to be flexible, ie modules can be switched around.
     • You may wish to liaison directly with the Bonner student site coordinator for regular updates about your students’ attendance during the semester but consider a TA to interface for you. 

During the semester, Bonner can support your course with an hours-tracking system (attendance), site training and transportation coordination. To be fully effective, include them in your course requirements.
     • The college relies on students’ cars for students to fulfill course requirements involving Service Learning and travel.
     • The Bonner site coordinator can help your students organize carpools for which they can be compensated for gas.

Learners going from classroom to community can experience “culture shock”. Even with classroom prep learners still need Service Learning-based cultural competency skills. Learners are actively encouraged by Bonner student site coordinators to practice etiquette, reflection, cultural competency, anti-racism and social justice while on site. Training is 4 hours and represents a minimum standard.
     • To fulfill on-site and training hours students should start early. Make sure they understand the grade impact if they start late or fail to complete required hours.
     • Busy students can do training in advance of your course.
     • Make sure they know training is required. 
     • Credit learners with 4 hours of training as part of the total Service Learning hours you require.
     • From etiquette to social justice 
     • Encourage learners to attend Understanding Racism workshops and consider awarding extra credit.

Without a built in process of reflection, much student time off-campus will be wasted. Bonner student site coordinators assist with general reflection and processing questions following the format, “What happened? So what? What next?” (also used during Day of Service). You may wish your students to reflect in different or more specific ways, or to practice through peer-guided exercises.
     • Make time for reflection out of class, in class or both 

Course design with Service Learning is an iterative process, “front loaded” with considerable planning time and end of course evaluation. These may prove to be too challenging for some educators, a welcome change for others. Such courses are community-centric to the degree they recognize community strengths and talents and respect community knowledge and the limits of the academic calendar. Learning outcomes tend to exceed stated aims in unexpected ways.
     • Don’t expect the first roll out of your course to go smoothly.
     • Clearly inform learners to expect schedule adjustments and changes. Tell them in advance they must be prepared to be flexible and suffer some discomfort for certain parts of the course.
     • Consider evaluating students on their flexibility as learners.
     • Listen carefully to learners' feedback from the field.

     • Make sure core learning outcomes and learner skills are not 100% dependent on Service Learning experiences, or that there are multiple learner ways of fulfilling these requirements.

Additional Training Days

Students can immediately register for their site or project and start (Part 1) online training.

(Part 2) Discussion Meeting Times

Sept 4 Thu 3:30-4:30 PM; 4:30-5:30 PM; 5:30-6:30 PM
Sept 5 Fri 3:30-4:30 PM; 4:30-5:30 PM; 5:30-6:30 PM
Sept 8 Mon 7:30-8:30 AM
Sept 9 Tue 7:30-8:30 AM
Sept 10 Wed 5:30-6:30 PM
Sept 11 Thu 5:30-6:30 PM

(Part 3) Cultural Competency Exercise Meeting Times

Students will contact facilitators to set up mutually agreeable times.

(Part 4) Contact the site or project coordinator (or if the location is not a Bonner Center community site, community partner) for arrangements to report, where to report, and completion of on-site training.