Course Criteria

Service-learning courses at Towson University should meet the following criteria:

I. Meaningful Connection to Discipline

The service-learning experience is explicitly related to course content and discipline. Students are exposed to an array of diverse perspectives that exist beyond the confines of the university. A service-learning course should include a minimum of 15 hours of service to the community partner (CP).

II. Preparation

Faculty will prepare students for the service-learning experience. This preparation may include research on the mission of the community partner and/or the population to be served. Preparation will include a thorough explanation, also included in the syllabus, of service-learning expectations and requirements. In-class preparation will include discussion of the value of the service-learning experience.

III. Partnership and Reciprocity

The service project is mutually beneficial to the university and community partner as it meets an existing need for the CP and enhances student learning. The faculty member and CP agree upon project details and timelines prior to the start of the course. There should be a written agreement between the university and CP with course and project specific information, including project goals and any deliverables expected of students. The faculty member and CP should be in continuous contact throughout the term to ensure that the needs of both parties are being met.

IV. Reflection

Meaningful and structured student reflection occurs throughout the service-learning experience. Students demonstrate an understanding of the connection between course content and the service-learning experience through reflection. Reflections may include journaling, discussions, presentations, periodic logs and/or other forms as stipulated by the faculty member.

V. Assessment and Evaluation

Evaluation of the service project is included in the project plan and is completed by the CP, faculty member and students in order to determine the project’s effectiveness in meeting stated goals. Community partners also assess student performance based on measures agreed upon with the faculty member. This assessment should be reflected in the grading matrix. Some form of evaluation should occur halfway through the project to allow time for improvements if necessary. Evaluations should be reviewed to make future improvements in the service-learning experience.

Class Note #24

If your course meets the Service Learning criteria, please have your department administrator set up on the Class Schedule with a Class Note of #24.

The class note reads: “This section contains an experiential education opportunity in which students connect concepts learned within the classroom to practical situations within the surrounding communities. Service-learning courses require a minimum of 10 hours of service (up to 35 hours of service), outside of scheduled class sessions, dispersed throughout the semester. Please contact the instructor for additional information.”

If you are not sure if a class should be designated as a service-learning class, contact , Office of Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility.