What is “Service Learning” (and how does it differ from other types of voluntary service?)
Service Learning is a pedagogical model linking academic content with direct practice through critical reflection.
Service learning is unlike extracurricular voluntary service in that it is centered on academic knowledge development and thus guided by discipline-specific learning goals. Through experiential learning, students become engaged in and attain a deeper understanding of a particular discipline as concepts become more relevant.
A key component to this learning process, however, is critical reflection. Through reflection, students identify how their academic content knowledge has enhanced the value of their service and how their understanding of the discipline has been strengthened by their service.
What is Service Learning and Outreach / Science Engagement "In-Reach"?
Service Learning & Outreach "In-reach” allows undergraduate students to actively apply their academic content knowledge in meaningful, relevant contexts, within a UTSC course. By exercising academic concepts and approaches, students "learn by doing" and gain a deeper understanding of what they have learned in past courses.
In turn, instructors gain the opportunity to enhance their course by utilizing the unique knowledge and perspectives of individuals who have recently experienced their course as students. In-reach students are awarded a course grade at the end of their placement and are NOT paid for their service.
What types of Service Activities/Projects are typical?
There really is no “typical” placement. The type of activity that students might be involved in depends largely on, and are defined by, the needs of the placement supervisor (you, the instructor). Sometimes activities are proposed by the In-reach student and are based on their experience with the course as a past student. Often, the student and placement supervisor come up with something together. The experience must enable students to apply and thus enhance their understanding of academic knowledge in their discipline. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that In-reach students not deliver course content knowledge without the direct supervision of the placement supervisor. In-reach students are NOT Teaching Assistants.
For past In-reach placements, students have created practice quizzes or worksheets or sample multiple choice questions. They have run modernized lecture slides, researched on-line resources, run in-class games and reviewed lab skills (under supervision). The list is endless!
How is placement activity structured?
A student’s physical involvement in an In-reach placement will depend on the nature of the project. Students are told to expect to devote approximately 5-7 hrs/week to their placement, although some projects might require more time from students during certain weeks and less time during others. The placement schedule is defined and agreed upon by the placement supervisor and the student. Because placements are part-time, it is very likely that students will also have part-time jobs and/or be taking other courses during the placement period. Placement hours might be spent performing direct service, training, preparing, researching, debriefing, etc.
Placements are approximately 10-11 weeks in length (Fall session: mid September - end of November; Winter session: mid January - end of March; Summer session: mid May - end of July). Students will be expected to attend the scheduled 2 hours/week in-class portion of the course (see course timetable for day and time).
What kind of (and how much) involvement would be needed from me?
The placement supervisor (you, the course instructor) may propose placement activities to be approved by the program coordinator, and approves of applicants (review application form, may interview if wish) before a partnership is formed.
Specifics of the project and the student’s involvement are then identified and agreed upon by the placement supervisor and the student (goals, responsibility of the student, responsibility of the placement supervisor, timelines, final product, etc.) and a Student-Placement Contract is signed.
Though students should be able to work independently, the placement supervisor acts as the student’s contact person and keeps track of a student’s overall service performance (time dedicated, reliability, professionalism, preparedness, attention to detail, communication skills, diligence, problem solving skills, etc.).
Finally, at the end of the placement, the placement supervisor is responsible for completing the Student Assessment Form and assigning a general service participation mark for the student which will be considered in the overall grade.
Who are Service Learning and Outreach / Science Engagement Students?
Service Learning and Outreach participants are undergraduates at UTSC who have completed at least 4 credits and have chosen a program offered by one of the UTSC departments to major or specialize in.
Some students may also be in one of our co-op programs or our concurrent teacher education program. Typically, UTSC students come from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The amount and type of experience they have had with community agencies and groups also differs between individuals. When applying to the program, students are required to fill out a comprehensive application form which asks them about their background and experience.
What types of student learning outcomes should a project be guided by?
a) ACADEMIC LEARNING (greater, deep foundational understanding, ability to transfer and apply information, analytical skills, strategic knowledge, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills)
b) PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (greater self-knowledge, self-awareness, motivation, confidence, sense of satisfaction and joy in helping others, personal efficacy, desire to incorporate service into future plans, feeling of connectedness with community, sense of responsibility)
c) INTERPERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (ability to work well with others, leadership and communication skills)
If I want to participate, where do I start?
If you have an idea for a placement, please contact the Placement Coordinator, Kamini Persaud (email@example.com). A short description (3-5 sentences) of the project will then be needed to be posted on the program website as a placement opportunity. Interested students fill out and submit an application form, which would have to be accepted by you before a connection is solidified.