Community Service-Learning (CSL) represents a potentially powerful learning experience for your students by enabling them to connect the theoretical content of your course to a service activity for a community organization. Students learn from both the service activity itself and their reflection on the experience in terms of course theory, their own personal development (e.g. values, social responsibility, leadership skills), and community needs.
In courses at Laurier with a CSL component, students have been engaged in a variety of roles, including those at arts and culture centres, schools, youth service organizations, sustainability organizations, mental health organizations, retirement and nursing homes, organizations serving the homeless, etc. This is typically done in conjunction with assignments and in-class reflection activities to relate their experiences to the course content.
Teaching CSL in large classes is challenging. Laurier's support of a university centre for community service-learning makes teaching and learning about community service in a course with 150 students feasible. The centre contributes graduate-level teaching assistants who teach tutorials integrating learning about service within one's community with the course material. This critical human resource plus all the resources for establishing and maintaining partnerships with community organizations and institutions allows me to focus on curriculum content, which explicitly includes learning about service, and how to make it engaging to and relevant for students.
Colleen Loomis, Professor, Community Psychology