Service Learning at Otterbein University
Cornerstones of Service Learning
Involvement in meaningful service to the community.
Services provided must meet a need identified by the community agency, not the instructor or students. The instructor does not tell the community agency what problems need to be solved or what work needs to be done, instead the instructor listens to the issues identified by the community agency.
Clearly conceptualized connection between course objectives (academic learning) and service activities (academic service-learning).
Services provided must enhance course content. Students should not be asked to provide service without a clear connection to course content. Without the connection to course content, students would be performing volunteerism, which is not academic service-learning.
Structured opportunities for students to synthesize and derive new meanings as they relate their experiences to course goals and objectives.
Students are engaged in structured synthesis in which they relate their service experiences to course content. In the synthesis process, students should be able to articulate how the service clarified, reinforced, or illustrated course concepts.
Citizenship contribution for students to identify their capacity to be an involved and active citizen within the community.
How can students’ awareness of themselves as citizens be increased? How can students discover the possibility and importance of simultaneously attending to their needs as individuals and as members of a community? What means of instruction, readings, activities, and service can be provided for student to increase their problem-based learning, collaborative learning, multiculturalism and diversity, civic awareness, and social responsibility?
Preparing students for service.
Otterbein prepares students for service-learning, civic engagement, and direct volunteerism by hosting poverty and immigration simulations. For more information about using simulations to train students for civic engagement, see Dr. Melissa Kesler Gilbert’s blog on NASPA’s Lead Initiative website: From SIM to the City: Using Simulations to Prepare Students for Civic Engagement