Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning
Every Service-Learning class should engage participants in meaningful reflection. As an active partner, you may wish to be a part of that process both during and after the project. We encourage you to talk to faculty and students about reflection.
What is Reflection?
“Reflection activities provide the bridge between community service activities and the educational content of the course. Reflection activities direct the student’s attention to new interpretations of events and provide a means through which the community service can be studied and interpreted, much as a text is read and studied for deeper understanding.”
(from R. Bringle & J. Hatcher (1999) “Reflection in Service Learning: Making Meaning of Experience” in Introduction to Service-Learning Toolkit (2000), Campus Compact: Providence, RI)
Designing Reflection: A Sample Structure
Step 1: Describe the Experience Objectively
Step 2: Analyze the Experience from Each of the Main Perspectives: Personal Growth, Civic Engagement, Academic Enhancement
Step 3: Articulate Learning: What did I learn? How did I learn it? Why does this learning matter, or why is it important? In what ways will I use this learning/what goals shall I set, etc?
(from  Clayton, Day, P. & M. “Reflection Session Guidebook,” NC State)
Example Reflection Activities:
Reflection Journals or “Critical Incident Journals”- ask to critically reflect on service experience and provide a means for ongoing personal interpretation and understanding. Journals are not diaries where a day’s events are simply recorded; rather they are critical pieces of writing where experiences are analyzed in connection with learning goals, personal beliefs, civic values, etc.
Experiential Research and/or Integration Papers – going beyond a journal, experiential research papers bring writing to a polished level of evaluation, reflection, and interpretation.
Presentations – engage in a group process of interpretation and connection and present it. Requires a process of personal reflections in a small group before presenting, and builds skills in teamwork, organization, and public speaking.
Electronic Reflection – create an online, visual interpretation of experiences, or create an electronic tool that will be useful for partners. Digital storytelling, website development, and blogs provide a means to share stories with others and build technological skills.
Dialogue – engage participants in critical dialogues about the service – give them sentence starters, quotes, or questions to get them started. Think about small group dialogue versus classroom dialogue. Share portions of journals or papers and build upon one another’s reflections.
Case Studies – think about incidents that occur at service sites, especially those that call for difficult decision-making. Write up case and use as the basis for a formal paper, informal reflection, or class activity.
Portfolios – by including all of the various types of reflection that participants have produced over the course of an experience, portfolios help to generate a whole experience from those separate reflections. Portfolios can also include visual or artistic renderings.
Creative Visual Displays or Art – give participants the opportunity to reflect on experiences in an artistic sense: enable them to create a display, poster, drawing, etc. that helps them to interpret their service experience and draws connections to their learning. You can also prompt dialogue using photos or images that participants can connect to their experience.
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Last modified January 25 2011 02:28 PM