Off-Campus Service Learning - Planning Checklist

A Checklist for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Service Learning Experiences

Stage One: Preparation
  • Course Description: Prepare your syllabus with a clear alignment of the course and service learning project (SLP) goals and objectives; specify course objectives tied to the SLP.
  • Integration of SLP into Course Content: Purposefully plan the course syllabus with integration of the SLP into the course content and class sessions.
  • SLP Description and Requirements: Specify the SLP requirements, directions, and methods for evaluating the project. Include elements of the SLP, such as the use of ongoing reflective journal writing, timeline and time logs; formative and summative evaluation procedures; SLP presentation; questions upon which students should reflect on the value of service learning in areas such as personal development, effective development, and civic responsibility, and on course content; final paper/report; and supporting materials. Provide a clear and detailed description of the SLP that specifies: 
    • Time requirement--amount of time required to devote to project
    • Grading criteria for the project, and value toward the total course grade
    • Types of projects--direct, indirect, advocacy
    • Location of SLP--where service is to be provided and with whom
    • Evaluation--how project will be evaluated. Prepare a scoring guide or rubric that is aligned with and in the same format as the SLP components. Include point or percentage value to components. Provide the scoring guide or rubric to the students in advance, and encourage their use of the instrument in preparing their projects or reports.


Stage Two: Implementation--Performing the Service
  • Foundation for Service Learning: Prior to allowing students to begin a project, provide a foundation for service learning as a philosophy and as pedagogy. Introduce service learning as a valuable instructional technique; provide the rationale and theoretical research base, and assign readings as appropriate.
  • Student Support and Feedback: Consider requiring the students to submit the SLP in parts; give regular feedback, allow students to share ongoing progress with others in class and encourage student reflection as the experience unfolds.


Stage Three: Reflection
  • Student Learning and Performance: Reflect on the student project reflections, completed project, and course grades. Devote time to review data on student learning and performance. Reflect on course evaluations and comments specific to the SLP.
  • Student Satisfaction: Reflect on the comments in the students’ reflections and on course evaluations. Plan in advance to gather sufficient data to provide for a review of student satisfaction.
  • Partner Satisfaction: Reflect on any feedback provided by community partner regarding their observations relating to student performance.
  • Instructor Satisfaction: Reflect on instructor observation and instructor notes, completed projects, and course evaluations. Discus SLP results with colleagues and students. Determine strengths and areas in need of refinement; continue to refine.


Stage Four: Demonstration and Celebration
  • Student Celebration: Allow students to present their projects. Determine whether the presentation of the project is part of the SLP grade.
  • Instructor Celebration: Present the results of your experience to other faculty. Provide support to colleagues and act as a resource. Present at national conferences and publish your results.


Adapted from Jenkins and Sheehey, 2012