At UCF, Service-learning is defined as “a teaching method that uses community involvement to apply theories or skills being taught in a course. Service-learning furthers the learning objectives of the academic course, addresses community needs, and requires students to reflect on their activity in order to gain an appreciation for the relationship between civics and academics.”
The basic criteria for a service-learning (SL) courses at UCF are that it:
- addresses a need in the community (campus, local, regional, global)
- meets one or more course objectives
- demonstrates a clear connection between the service activity and the course content
- involves reciprocity between course and community that results in students’ increased civic awareness and engagement
- involves structured student reflection
- involves collaboration with an appropriate agency representative
- involves at least 15 hours of student service to the community agency
In addition to these basic criteria, a service-learning course must showcase these key components:
- Reciprocity — The service and learning must be worthwhile for both the student and the community. There must be reciprocity between the server and those served.
- Reflection — Intentional, systematic reflection of the experience must take place in order to thoughtfully connect the service-learning experience with the assigned curriculum. Reflection is what transforms experiences into learning.
- Development — Service-learning occurs in different stages: servicing to enabling to empowering; observation to experience to leadership.
- Meaningful Service — Service tasks need to be worthwhile and challenging in order to strengthen students’ critical thinking while fostering civic responsibility.
- Diversity — A priority is placed on involving a broad cross-section of students working in a diverse setting and with a diverse population within the community.
If you are interested in participating in a Service-Learning course, you can search for one that interests you using the Class Search tool in MyUCF. In the Special Course Groups field, select Service-Learning and your search will return a list of SL courses offered that semester.
The UCF Arboretum welcomes faculty participation through service learning engagement. Faculty members are encouraged to make their class a Service Learning course (20 hour minimum) by visiting the following website: http://www.coop.ucf.edu/categories/For%20Faculty/146_77.aspx. There are many benefits to the students, the department, and the participating non-profit. Though designating your course is desired, it is not necessary for you to have your students participate in Service Learning. You may assign them as many hours as you see fit. If your students will be completing their service hours with the Arboretum, we *highly encourage* you to send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- The syllabus for the course
- The potential number of participating students
- The number of hours to be completed by each student
- Time frame for service hours to be completed
- Desired objectives of service learning engagement (if not provided in syllabus)