Service-Learning Designation

The University Service-Learning Committee (USLC) invites proposals for courses to receive Suffolk’s Service-Learning Designation. The designation will help students and advisors to identify service-learning courses.

Proposals and Requirements

To qualify for the designation, a course must meet Suffolk’s definition for service-learning (as recently approved by the faculty of CAS and SBS): At Suffolk, service-learning is a pedagogy integrating academically relevant service activities that address human and community needs into a course. Students connect knowledge and theory to practice by combining service with reflection in a structured learning environment.

Instructions for Submission

Submit this completed form [PDF] and your syllabus to Service Learning. Please contact the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) if you do not receive a confirmation of receipt within two business days. Submissions will be routed to the University Service-Learning Committee (USLC) for review.

Timeline

Proposals for courses to be taught in the upcoming academic year (fall or spring) should be submitted no later than the last day to add/register of the spring semester.

Support

Whether you are a veteran service-learning professor or investigating the concept for the first time, the Center for Community Engagement supports you as well as the students, and community partners who wish to collaborate on service-learning projects. We serve faculty by identifying potential projects with community-based organizations (CBOs), facilitating collaborative project planning with faculty and community partners, advising faculty on curriculum and syllabus development, training students, and providing administrative support throughout the duration of the project.

Faculty may also contact any member of the USLC for advice and assistance in preparing a course proposal for submission.

Meet the USLC Committee:

Lisa Celovsky (CAS Dean’s Office)

Jenn Fuchel (NESAD)

Debra Harkins (Psychology)

Cindy Irizarry (Advertising, Public Relations, & Social Media)

Sandy Matava (Institute for Public Service)

Catherine McCabe (SBS Dean’s Office)

Adam Westbrook (CCE)

Mujde Yuksel (Marketing)

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Design

What is the application process to have my course tag as a service-learning course?

To qualify for the designation, a course must meet Suffolk’s definition for service-learning (approved in 2015 by the faculty of CAS and SBS): At Suffolk, service-learning is a pedagogy integrating academically relevant service activities that address human and community needs into a course. Students connect knowledge and theory to practice by combining service with reflection in a structured learning environment.

Submit the application form [PDF] and your syllabus to Service Learning.

Proposals will be accepted by the USLC at any time. However, please note deadlines as indicated in mailings from your dean’s office. Submit materials by required dates for best consideration for inclusion of courses in next year’s academic Catalogs or for assignment of service-learning course types that will allow students and advisors to identify S-L courses using the MySuffolk class search during registration and advising periods. Proposals for courses to be taught in the upcoming academic year (fall or spring) should be submitted no later than the last day to add/register of the spring semester. For example, submit applications for fall semester courses during the first week of the prior spring semester.

How will students recognize service-learning courses?

Approved service-learning courses will have the letter “SL” indicated after the course number (e.g., EDUC 214 SL-Introduction to Teaching), indicating that every student in every section of this course is required to complete service-learning.

In addition, course descriptions for service-learning courses begin with a standard sentence that identifies the course as requiring service-learning: In this course students meet community needs by engaging in service-learning outside the classroom. Finally, S-L courses are searchable in MySuffolk by the course type “SL.”

What elements should be included in the syllabus?

Incorporating service-learning project information into your syllabus is an important step in integrating the service component into the course. The project information helps clarify expectations and requirements for students and streamline administrative processes. Please use the Service-Learning Syllabus Template [DOC] to design your syllabus. Please note that this template also includes all of the information found in the university syllabus template.

How many hours should a student work in the community?

We ask that you schedule a minimum of 10 hours of direct or indirect service. For optimal learning, 30 hours of engagement is recommended. Please visit the Modes of Service-Learning page for more information.

What resources are available to me?

The Center for Community Engagement is dedicated to supporting Suffolk faculty, students and community partners who wish to collaborate on service-learning projects. We serve faculty by identifying potential projects with Community-based Organizations (CBOs), facilitating collaborative project planning with faculty and community partners, advising faculty on curriculum and syllabus development, training students, and providing administrative support throughout the duration of the project. Whether you are a veteran service-learning professor or are investigating the concept for the first time, we are here to help! Reach out to Director of the Center for Community Engagement, Adam Westbrook.

  • Seed Grants. The Center is proud to offer seed grants to encourage the use of service-learning as a pedagogical method and facilitate projects that would not be possible without additional funding. Applications are available for all full-time and adjunct faculty teaching undergraduate or graduate courses.
  • Service-learning Faculty Assistants (SLFAs). SLFAs work with a specific faculty member to provide support for service-learning projects. Trained and supervised by the Center for Community Engagement service-learning staff, SLFAs are available to assist faculty members with student orientation, coordination of service placements, administration of paperwork, reflection activities, and ongoing project management and support. The SLFA is the primary Center contact person for a faculty member for the duration of a semester.
  • Community Partner. We offer guidance and support in developing community partnerships.
  • Service-learning Resource and Social Justice Library. The Center maintains a rich lending library of service-learning and social justice books. Resources are available for faculty to learn more about service-learning as pedagogy, best practices, and facilitating effective reflection. Faculty and students are welcome to visit the center and borrow books at any time.

How will my course be evaluated?

The rubric below would be used to evaluate the proposed service-learning course:

Content Area

Excellent (5-4 points)

Sufficient (2-3 points)

Insufficient (1-0 points)

Score

Course description

Service activities are well-articulated. Clearly states how service is integrated with the academic mission.

Includes the definition of service-learning.

Documentation shows specific service activities. Includes the definition of service-learning.

Service activities are not detailed, or are poorly articulated.

Community partner

Information about the community partner is clearly stated. Activities were planned with community partners and have connection to their mission. Students understand how their learning in link to the service project.

Information about the community partner is stated. Community partner or potential community partner is identified, and activities that are connected to their mission are described. Student learning is stated in the syllabus.

Community needs are not met, or are not met in a way that is relevant to the community partner indicated.

Class policies and project logistics

Number of community hours required for students to serve. Specific dates of service are. Service-learning paperwork, including safety training, is referenced and explained in the syllabus.

Number of community hours required for students to serve. Specific dates of service are. Service-learning paperwork is mentioned.

Documentation provided little information about the community partner and the role of students in the project.

Service-learning objectives

Service activities are clearly connected to academic content. Service-learning objectives are clearly articulated and linked to the course.

Service activities are connected to academic content. Service-learning objective are included with general learning objectives of the class.

Connections between service activities and academic content are unclear.

Student reflection- course assignments

Students are given significant opportunities for structured reflection. Connections between service and academic content are repeatedly reinforced. Students are given significant opportunities to reflect on and assess the impact of their activities on their community.

Students are given some opportunities for structured reflection, where connection between service and academic content is made. Students are given some opportunities to reflect on and assess the impact of their activities.

Students are not given opportunities to reflect on or evaluate the impact of their actions.

Grading-evaluation of service

Documentation lays out clear strategy for assessing the learning outcomes listed below. There are well-defined metrics and methods of assessment.

Documentation provides sufficient indication that student learning will be assessed for the learning outcomes listed below. There are defined metrics and a basic assessment strategy.

Documentation provides little to no indication on how student learning will be assessed for the learning outcomes listed below. Assessment strategy is unclear or completely absent.

*Adapted from the Ohio University service-learning course review rubric.
*Courses must score at least in the sufficient category for all content areas in order to be approved. We will provide feedback and work with faculty members throughout the approval process.

In addition, courses will be evaluated using the checklist below.

Checklist for service-learning approval.

Service-learning definition included in course description in syllabus.

Community site listed (if known) with community partner mission statement.

Community service activities should include a minimum of 25 hours of service, at least 10 of which should be direct or indirect service.

Critical reflection activities are present in course assignment descriptions.

Critical reflection activities listed as assessments in course goal rubric.

Substantial amount of course work is relevant to service-learning. (Student cannot pass class without completing at least 10 hours of direct or indirect service and at least 50 percent of all service-learning related course-work.)

Approved service-learning goal is accurately stated in syllabus chart of goals and objectives.

Course-specific service-learning objectives have been provided in syllabus chart of goals and objectives.

Community Partners/ Risk Management

Community Engagement is a core value in Suffolk’s strategic plan. As an institution, we are committed to providing students with experiential learning both in and out of the classroom that enhance learning and scholarship. Service-learning is an essential part of the experiential learning strategy.

As an institution, we are committed to the safety of our students in and out of the classroom. We aim to provide a safe and enriching service-learning experience. We partner with community organizations with high safety standards.To accomplish this standard, we must limit service placements to organizations that have entered into a formal partnership agreement with Suffolk.

What are the requirements for a non-profit organization to partner with Suffolk?

All organizations that partner with Suffolk must sign a Suffolk University partnership agreement and provide the university with proof of liability insurance throughout the duration of the agreement. The following insurance coverage will be a requirement of all organizations partnering with Suffolk university: Commercial General Liability Insurance policy, written on an “occurrence” basis, for bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury with minimum limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence/$2,000,000 general.

Who will ensure the community partners have fulfilled all legal requirements to partner with Suffolk?
The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) in partnership with Risk Management will facilitate the partnership agreements between the university and community organizations where students will serve.

What are my options for choosing a community partner?

To approve a community partnership for a service-learning course, please follow these guidelines. Faculty members teaching a service-learning course can choose one of the following community partnership options:

  • Community organization(s) identified by the CCE.
  • Faculty-identified community organization(s).
  • New partnership(s) co-developed by the faculty member and the CCE.

How does option 1, community organization(s) identified by the CCE, work?

  • The CCE will maintain a list of pre-approved community organizations.
  • Once a faculty member has identified an area of interest, they should reach out the CCE to check the list of pre-approved organizations.
  • CCE will provide a list of contacts to start the partnership process.
  • Once the faculty and community organization decide to engage in a new project, information should be provided to the CCE so that the agreement can be updated to include this new specific project.
  • Please contact the CCE at 617-605-6306 or by emailing the Director, Adam Westbrook.

How does option 2, faculty-identified community organization(s), work?

  • Once a faculty member identifies a community organization, they should contact the CCE to check if they are already approved as a university community partner.
  • If there is already an agreement in place, see guidelines above from option 1.
  • If there is not an agreement in place, faculty members will need to provide the CCE with the following information in order to complete a partner agreement:
    • The name of the organization.
    • Organization address.
    • Main contact at the organization (name, email, and phone number).
    • The name of the person at the organization that would have signatory power to sign the agreement (usually the executive director, etc.--name, email, and phone number).
    • A description of activities students will be engaging in when working with the organization.
  • Once CCE receives this information, they will reach out to the organization with the legal agreement and request for proof of liability insurance
  • Once the agreement has been processed, the CCE will notify the faculty member

How does option 3, new partnership(s) co-developed by the faculty member and the CCE, work?

  • If a faculty member identifies an area of interest with no current pre-approved partners, they should work with the CCE to identify new community organization.
  • The faculty member should let the CCE know what kind of organization they are interested in working with, what type of work they would like the students to engage in, etc.
  • The CCE will also work on establishing a formal partner agreement with this new partner.
  • Once the agreement has been processed, the CCE will notify the faculty member.