Institutionalizing Service-Learning

As part of a three-year Learn and Serve America grant, the Pennsylvania and New York Campus Compact consortium supported PHENND to in turn support area campuses to “institutionalize service-learning” on their campuses. Through a competitive, peer-reviewed RFP process, eight local higher eds were selected in December 2006 for projects that began in January 2007. The institutions represented varying levels of service-learning programming from “beginner” to “advanced.” PHENND provided modest grants, which were matched by each institution at increasing levels each year, to support infrastructure development. PHENND also provided ongoing training and technical assistance to participating campuses.

Below is a summary of each campus’s major accomplishments during the grant period (Jan. 2007-Aug. 2009)

Institutionalization of Service-Learning program: Final Impact Statements from participating campuses

The following six campuses each received approximately $15,000 over a three years period through support from PACC/NYCC’s Building on Our Strengths Learn and Serve grant. Over that same time, these campuses provided matching funds of approximately $25,000 to support their service-learning activities.

Bryn Mawr College: The ongoing reflection is that this grant has encouraged and supported the Praxis Steering Committee to refine and revise the structure of the Praxis Program. These revisions make room for faculty to approach community-based learning in a more gradual manner and legitimize exploration as a form of engagement with the community. In particular, there is now an official liaison between the College’s Curriculum Committee and the Praxis Steering Committee.

Cabrini College: This grant came at an important time for Cabrini College. During the three years, the faculty passed a curriculum that requires a community engagement course in all four years of an undergraduate’s education. All of the College’s full-time faculty are expected to teach in this series, and this is requiring Cabrini to provide intensive faculty development to implement the curriculum. It is still early in this process, but grant has allowed Cabrini to launch pilot service learning courses while hosting large conversations with faculty about how to develop, teach, and assess courses along with community partners.

Chestnut Hill College: This grant really allowed service-leaning to be seen as a viable pedagogy on the campus. Prior to 2006, service-learning was largely done in an ad-hoc manner. Through the offering of several faculty development workshops and invitations to speak at Faculty Senate and Faculty-Administration meetings, the service-learning program grew significantly. The staff reports that they are confident that this momentum and positive reputation will continue beyond the end of the grant cycle. The current goal is to have at least one service-learning course offered in each of their academic majors.

Gwynedd-Mercy College: The overall impact of the grant has been positive. The training that was provided early on allowed several faculty to learn more about this pedagogy and examine their courses to see how it could fit into their work. In turn, some of these faculty inspired/encouraged colleagues to incorporate service-learning into their own work. At this point, there is a small cadre of faculty who regularly include service learning in their courses. The grant also enhanced the First Year Experience course for our students. The service-learning coordinator took an active role on the teaching team providing insight and assistance to faculty engaging in service-learning for the first time. In addition, a portion of the grant was used to support the service activities of each class.

Montgomery County Community College: A new position at the college has been created for a faculty member who will oversee the Service Learning coordination on campus. It is the college’s commitment to sustainability of Service Learning. Service Learning is now in the process of being established in the core curriculum and is undergoing review with the core committee. Part of that process is the development of a rubric that can be utilized by all divisions of the College.

Saint Joseph’s University: With the assistance of the grant, service-learning course offerings expanded 54%. Overall faculty involvement in the service-learning program beyond teaching the classroom has increased. Involvement in Service-Learning Faculty Learning Communities, workshops and additional opportunities engaged all but one of currently teaching service-learning faculty and eight additional service-learning faculty.

The following two campuses participated in the Institutionalization of Service-Learning program completely on their own funds (totaling approximately $50,000 each over the three year period).

University of Pennsylvania: While no funds and direct support were given to the Netter Center for Community Partnerships from this grant, we learned a great deal from our colleagues across the area (via PHENND and the University of Pennsylvania.) Evaluation is a permanent component of NCCP practices, even if still at the beginning phases of development and planning.

Widener University: Participating in this grant helped us to look at new ways to meet our faculty development goals and to attract more faculty members to our program. We will need to continue to provide faculty development for those who have completed our introductory program in addition to training new faculty.