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Service-Learning Course Parameters

The following parameters serve as guidelines for the development of service-learning courses. The service-learning committee will be responsible to approve and monitor service-learning courses and activities.

1. The general criteria listed below guide the development and practice of service-learning courses:
  1. Awards academic credit.
  2. Requires educator orientation and training in the pedagogies and best practices of service-learning.
  3. Incorporates research and theory from experiential/contextual learning and service-learning in course design and delivery.
  4. Provides evaluation and feedback for students.
2. Credit for service-learning may be earned in the following areas:
  1. 1. Discipline-Based Courses: Courses that are initiated by and housed in respective academic departments. There are two types of discipline-based Service-Learning courses:
    1. Those permanently designated within the discipline
    2. Those selectively designated for a given semester. These courses or sections are developed by faculty and are approved by the Department Chair and the Service-Learning Committee for a given semester.

  2. Free-Standing IDS Courses: Courses initiated by the General Education Committee and housed either in the department or in General Education. There are two types of IDS Service-Learning courses:
    1. Those permanently designated within General Education
    2. Those selectively designated for a given semester. These courses are developed by faculty and are approved by the General Education Committee and the Service-Learning Committee for a given semester.

  3. Free-Standing Service-Learning (“ SERV”) Courses. Courses initiated by the Director of the Agapé Center for Service and Learning, approved by the Service-Learning and Curriculum Committees, and housed in the Agapé Center for Service and Learning.
    1. The content of these courses is focused more specifically on themes of service, social justice, development and mission. A required service activity meets community-identified needs;
    2. Example: SERV 231/232: Foundation of Service, Mission and Social Change (approved in 1989).
3. Messiah College service-learning courses will include the following components. Faculty are responsible to design courses to accomplish these objectives and may use a variety of pedagogical strategies in addition to service-learning to do so.
  1. Content Component. Service readings and activities will relate service to the course objectives.

    1. Introduces students to research problems and community partnerships that address a significant need in our community, region, country, or the world.
    2. Prepares students for service by studying theories and gaining academic knowledge relevant to the problem.
    3. Prepares students for service by orienting them to the problem and the context in which they will work.
    4. Uses readings and discussions to connect learning to College-Wide Educational Objectives.

  2. Service Component. Service assignment addresses a significant need in context. Students will satisfy the service requirement by choosing from a variety of activities approved by the Director of the Agapé Center for Service and Learning and by the faculty member teaching the course.

    1. Provides opportunities for students to express value commitments and disciplinary knowledge in an authentic, real-life setting.
    2. Enables students to personally connect with people involved with the issue to which the service is directed. Ideally, this will include a relationship with persons directly affected.
    3. Relates to programs with long-term commitments to the communities and issues they address.
    4. Includes sufficient contact time and duration to allow students to build relationships with people facing the issue and to develop deep understanding.

  3. Reflection Component. Incorporates structured reflection activities that relate the student’s major and service experience to Christian discipleship and vocation.

    1. Includes students, faculty and community partners.
    2. Requires written and oral reflection activities.
    3. Critically analyzes the theories, structures and assumptions of students’ academic disciplines in the context of the service experience.
    4. Helps students to link their values and academic learning to other parts of the curriculum and co-curriculum.
    5. Encourages students to evaluate their personal values and commitments, and to grow in discipleship and toward a mature Christian faith.
    6. Helps students develop a theological understanding of vocation that enables them to contextual their faith.
4. Student evaluation will be on a letter grade basis.

5. Faculty members or local persons extensively involved in teaching service-learning courses should:
  1. have a broad knowledge of experiential education through formal study, extended practice or other commensurate means. If faculty member’s knowledge is limited, it is expected that they will use the Agape Center for Service and Learning resources to supplement their knowledge.
  2. build a relationship with the community in which the service is taking place. Faculty members should know their community partners needs and assets as they engage the community.
  3. be widely read in the literature on the projects under study in the course.
  4. be familiar with the literature of service-learning (i.e. theoretical approaches to service), and be prepared to integrate this throughout the content of the course.
6. Faculty expenses and load credit will be provided in the following manner:
  1. Expenses incurred by the course faculty (i.e., transportation, lodging, and meals) should be included in the costs assumed by students enrolled in the course.
  2. It is recommended that for J‑term courses, faculty load credit of three hours require an enrollment of at least 12 students
  3. May courses that constitute part of the faculty member’s normal load (24 load units) should have least 12 students per faculty member. If the faculty member is teaching the course as an overload, then the course should have an enrollment of at least 9 students.
  4. For courses during the summer or at other times, the load credit will be consistent with college policies for awarding load credit during that time period.
7. The deadlines for securing signatures from the Department Chair, School Dean, and Service-Learning Committee are October 1 for Spring courses and March 1 for Fall courses. The Agapé Center will forward the list of approved courses each semester to the registrar.

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