Service-Learning at Bellevue College

Service-Learning offers an approach to engaging students in academic success and their community.

What is Service-Learning?

Circle of hands in the dirt

Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

Service-Learning curriculum takes advantage of volunteer positions both on- and off-campus. Volunteer responsibilities apply concepts or skills pertinent to course outcomes. Students learn while engaging with the community, and the community benefits from student participation.

How do I start a Service-Learning component in my course?

Initiating a Service-Learning program in your course can seem like a make-over for your syllabus; however, it does not have to be. The basic structure for starting a program for your course includes the following:

Identify Course Objectives:

Identify the concepts or skills integral to your course that could be better taught through real-world, practical experience.

Examples:

  • Writing and Composition for an English Class
  • Basic Tax Preparation for an Accounting Class
  • Political Systems in Political Science or Sociology
  • Ecosystem Health and Biology for Environmental Science

Menu of Volunteering Opportunities:

Faculty members integrate volunteering options into their syllabus (one-time project, quarter-long service, multi-quarter service, etc.) A menu of volunteer options is provided for students, and each reflects the learning outcomes from the course. Bellevue College offers several opportunities for both on- and off-campus volunteering.

Faculty members and the community organizations should have a firm understanding of expectations and responsibilities – meaning organizations should provide guidance to student volunteers on-site, and faculty should provide students with a framework for understanding their volunteer experience. For faculty just initiating Service-Learning in their classes, consider using on-campus volunteer resources

Provide Orientation for Students:

Service-Learning may be a new concept for students. A brief orientation on Service-Learning explains the purpose of incorporating Service-Learning into the course. Additionally, an orientation provides basic information on what it means to be guest or volunteer in a community outside Bellevue College. An orientation does not have to be long or in-depth, but provide students with a basic understanding volunteer service and its incorporation in course work.

Course Assignments:

Students complete assignments that explain how they apply concepts of the course into their volunteer placement. Assignments could take many forms, including journal entries, articles, essays, posters, websites, or a completed project for a community organization.

Examples:

  • English/Writing: Blog Posts and Social Media for a local non-profit.
  • Accounting: Tax form assistance for low-income residents.
  • Political Science: Voter registration through local non-profits.
  • Environmental Science: Restoration activities for the Cedar River watershed