Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning
Community Partner Guide to Service Learning:
Part 4: Recommendations from Past Community Partners
Recommendations from Past Community Partners
In fall 2008, a survey (See Appendix B) was created to gather information about how community partners experience service-learning partnerships with UVM courses. Faculty members who taught service-learning classes were asked to provide names and contact information for each community organization they partnered with during the 2008/2009 academic year.
The survey was administered via e-mail to these contacts at the end of each term. The most salient message from this survey is that satisfaction with partnerships varies greatly across experiences. While some community partners report a high level of student preparedness, effective communication, and high quality work (about 1/3 of respondents in each question) – there are some partners who report challenges in these areas. Despite these challenges, more than 80% of partners were interested in working with UVM again.
For the benefit of these partners, and in appreciation of their work with us, we think it is essential that we work to maintain high quality partnerships and improve future projects.
The following recommendations were culled from community partner feedback.
- Select appropriate project(s):
- Assess students' skill level and abilities; work to find projects that are appropriately matched. Don't suggest a project unless you feel confident that students will be able to take on the challenge successfully.
- Make sure students are prepared to work on the chosen project(s):
- Emphasize effective communication, project management, and group dynamics skills prior to the start of the service-learning project;
- Make sure students have a basic understanding about the organization they will work with;
- Use a Memorandum of Agreement to explicitly outline roles and responsibilities for all involved parties as well as expectations of students' work prior to the start of the service-learning project.
- Stay involved and connected throughout the course of the project:
- Provide all partners with a copy of the course syllabus prior to the start of the project;
- Plan for and maintain open communication with all involved parties to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
- Hold students accountable for the work they do:
- Make sure students have a clear understanding of how their work will impact the organization they are working with;
- Use meaningful interim project management tools to hold students accountable throughout a project's lifespan, not just at the end;
- Involve all partners in the evaluation process in a concrete way and make this fact clear to students.
Last modified January 25 2011 11:39 AM