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Distance Teaching with Service Learning and Civic Engagement BETA

A Toolkit from University of Maine at Augusta, and University of Southern Maine

Print Version of the Toolkit: uma.edu/faculty-cedoc

Service Learning and Civic Engagement

Are you a Distance Educator and You Want to Include Service Learning, but Don’t Know Where to Start? Let’s look at Civic Engagement and Service Learning and how these two ideas can reenergize your course design, motivate students, and give back to the community at the same time!

Service Learning

Service‐learning is one of the most hands on, high impact curricular pedagogies available to faculty, when it is properly included in a course. Service learning:

"Is a credit-bearing, educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility" (Bringle and Hatcher, 1995). [1]

"means a method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully organized service that: is coordinated with an institution of higher education, and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students enrolled; and includes structured time for students to reflect on the service experience"  (American Association for Higher Education). [2]

"is a teaching method which combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility.  Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community" (Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges). [3]

"is the various pedagogies that link community service and academic study so that each strengthens the other.  The basic theory of service-learning is Dewey's: the interaction of knowledge and skills with experience is key to learning.  Students learn best not by reading the Great Books in a closed room but by opening the doors and windows of experience.  Learning starts with a problem and continues with the application of increasingly complex ideas and increasingly sophisticated skills to increasingly complicated problems" (Ehrlich, 1996). [4]

Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement includes service learning, but expands its reach to include several other factors related to self-motivation, community involvement, ongoing connection and interaction, and supporting communities.

“Civic engagement involves ‘working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes’ (Erlich, 2000). Civic engagement includes both paid and unpaid forms of political activism, environmentalism, and community and national service (Michelson et al, 2002). Volunteering is one form of civic engagement” (“Civic Engagement”). [5]

“The underlying aim of civic engagement is to produce meaningful service and experience to all involved participants. The relationship between all involved parties is ideally reciprocal; the community partners explain their needs, the students and faculty work with the community partners to find a sustainable way to address their need and the experience serves as a common ground for students to enhance their scholarship, raise questions and explore alternative solutions with new social consciousness, not only in the classroom but as they move into the world as professionals. This experience also allows faculty to reignite student’s passion and tie current or future research endeavors to their courses” (National Louis University). [6]

References

  1. This resource is quoted in “The Use of Service Learning in Emergency Management” FEMA: United States Government. Web. https://training.fema.gov/hiedu/downloads/slsetupdocument.doc Source citation: Bringle, R., & Hatcher, J. (1995). A service learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 2, 112-122.
  2. Resource quoted from “Civic Engagement.” Youth.gov. Web. http://youth.gov/youth-topics/civic-engagement-and-volunteering
  3. Resource quoted from “”What Is Civic Engagement?” National Louis University. Web. http://www.nl.edu/studentservices/civicengagement/whatiscec/
  4. This resource is quoted in “The Use of Service Learning in Emergency Management.” FEMA: United States Government. Web. https://training.fema.gov/hiedu/downloads/slsetupdocument.doc Source citation: Ehrlich, T. (1996) "Foreword" in Barbara Jacoby and Associates, Service-Learning in Higher Education: Concepts and Practices. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, p. xi-xii.
  5. Resource quoted from “Civic Engagement.” Youth.gov. Web. http://youth.gov/youth-topics/civic-engagement-and-volunteering
  6. Resource quoted from “”What Is Civic Engagement?” National Louis University. Web. http://www.nl.edu/studentservices/civicengagement/whatiscec/

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