Community-based Education: Service Learning and Academic Internship

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Stanislaus State promotes service learning as a valued part of a student'€s educational process through which academic experience and social consciousness are deepened. Launched in 2000, the Office of Service Learning has made remarkable progress in supporting the faculty's development of service learning opportunities. During the 2017-2018 academic year alone, 75 undergraduate and graduate courses, spanning numerous disciplines, contained a service learning component. Among the departments with a service learning component are:
Accounting and Finance, Anthropology, Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Child Development, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, English, Geography, Honors Program, Kinesiology, Liberal Studies, Mathematics, Nursing, Politics and Public Administration, Psychology, Sociology, Teacher Education, and Theater.

Additionally, we have an Americorp VISTA  that focuses on STEM sciences by engaging the K-12 community, teachers, the College of Science and Stan State faculty.

What is Service Learning?

Service learning is an innovative pedagogy (educational approach) that empowers students to learn through active participation in meaningful and planned community service experiences that are directly related to course content. Through reflective activities, students enhance their understanding of course content, sense of social responsibility, general knowledge, self-awareness, and commitment to the community.

[Service learning as pedagogy] decenters the authority of knowledge in the classroom and intentionally places community in the center of the learning process.

John Saltmarsh and Kerri Heffernan, Integrating Service with Academic Study, Campus Compact

At the core of service-learning is the principle that community service can be connected to classroom learning in such a way that service is more informed by theoretical and conceptual understanding and learning is more informed by the realities of the world.

Joint Educational Project, University of Southern California

Goals

The primary goal of the Office of Service Learning at California State University, Stanislaus is to enhance student learning through service learning projects. Specifically, the Office of Service Learning has the following program goals:

  • To enhance our students' subject matter learning in applying classroom knowledge to practical experience.
  • To model for our students how a critical and democratic teacher can act to bring civic engagement into the classroom.
  • To develop our students' commitment to service, social justice, and community involvement.
  • To enable our students to work productively with diverse communities.
  • To assist faculty and students to comply with risk managment policy designated for relevant service learning and internship off-campus activities.

Student Learning Objectives for Service Learning

The Service Learning program goals are framed through the lens of student learning, and the faculty have developed specific student learning objectives to accompany these important service learning program goals.  Students participating in service learning are expected to achieve the following student learning outcomes:  

  1. Apply discipline‐specific and/or interdisciplinary knowledge and critical thinking skills to community issues. (Program Goals 1,2)
  2. Demonstrate critical self‐reflection of oneʹs own assumptions and values as applied to community issues.  (Program Goals 2,3,4)
  3. Demonstrate knowledge and sensitivity to issues of culture, diversity, and social justice as applied to community engagement. (Program Goals 2,3,4)

Office of Service Learning Statistics

  • In the 2017-2018 academic year, the Office of Service Learning supported an estimated 75 courses in 199 course sections offering a service component.
  • In 2017-2018 an estimated 3,180 students had the opportunity to participate in a service learning course or event (as compared with an estimated 500 students in 2001).
  • The estimated contribution to the local economy of service activities provided to the region by service learning is an estimated $1,992,781.00