What is Service Learning and Outreach?
"Service Learning is a University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) program connecting undergraduate students with discipline-related community partners. Students are given opportunities to exercise content knowledge gained in the academic classroom in a meaningful, relevant context and are exposed to the current needs of their communities as well as the approaches being employed to meet these needs.
Community organizations benefit from this by having access to bright, inquiring minds with disciplinary knowledge and willingness to serve the community. Students carry out their service placement as part of the course CTLB03H: "Introduction to Service Learning" and are awarded a course grade at the end of their placement. They are NOT paid for their service.
What types of service activities/projects are typical?
There really is no “typical” placement. The types of activity that Service Learning and Outreach students might be involved in depend on, and are defined by, the needs of the community partner. However, the experience must enable students to apply, and thus enhance, their understanding of academic knowledge in their discipline.
Such projects might involve solving an identified problem, researching options and opportunities (e.g. funding), working with individuals serviced by the community agency, providing leadership, developing and reforming curriculum or policy, etc.
How is placement activity structured?
A student’s physical involvement in a community placement will depend on the nature of the project. Students are told to expect to spend approximately 5-7 hrs./week out in the community, although some projects might require more time from students during certain weeks and less time during others. The placement schedule is defined and agreed upon by the community partner and the student. Because placements are part-time, it is very likely that students will also be taking other courses and/or have part-time jobs during the placement period. Placement hours might be spent working with individuals at the community agency, researching, on assignments elsewhere, etc.
Placements will be approximately 10-11 weeks in length in Fall (Sept to Nov.), Winter (Jan - March), or Summer (May to July) terms. Students will also be expected to be on campus 2 hours/week for the scheduled in-class portion of the course.
What kind of (and how much) involvement would be needed from me?
The community partner proposes a project to be approved by the program coordinator, and approves of applicants (review application form, may interview if wish) before a partnership is formed.
Specifics of the project and the student’s involvement are then identified and agreed upon by the community partner, the student and the coordinator (goals, responsibility of the student, responsibility of the community partner, timelines, final product, etc.) and a Student-Placement Contract is signed.
One individual or (small group of individuals) from the community agency is assigned to the student as an overall placement supervisor. Though students should be able to work independently, the supervisor acts as the student’s contact person and keeps track of a student’s overall service performance (time dedicated, reliability, professionalism, preparedness, attention to detail, communication skills, diligence, problem solving skills, etc.).
Finally, at the end of the placement, the placement supervisor is responsible for completing the Student Assessment Form and assigning a general service participation mark for the student, which will be considered in the overall grade.
Who are Service Learning and Outreach students?
Service Learning and Outreach participants are undergraduates at UTSC who have completed first year and have chosen a program offered by one of the UTSC departments to major or specialize in.
Some students may also be in one of our co-op programs or our concurrent teacher education program. Typically, UTSC students come from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The amount and type of experience they have had with community agencies and groups also differ between individuals. When applying to the program, students are required to fill out a comprehensive application form, which asks them about their background and experience.
What types of student learning outcomes should a project be guided by?
a) ACADEMIC LEARNING (greater, deep foundational understanding, ability to transfer and apply information, analytical skills, strategic knowledge, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills)
b) PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (greater self-knowledge, self-awareness, motivation, confidence, sense of satisfaction and joy in helping others, personal efficacy, desire to incorporate service into future plans, feeling of connectedness with community, sense of responsibility)
c) INTERPERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (ability to work well with others, leadership and communication skills)
If I want to participate, where do I start?
If you have an idea for a placement, please contact the Placement Coordinator, Kamini Persaud (firstname.lastname@example.org). A short description (3-5 sentences) of the project will then be needed to be posted on the program website as a placement opportunity. Interested students fill out and submit an application form, which would have to be accepted by you before a connection is solidified.
What is “Service Learning” (and how does it differ from other types of voluntary service?)
Service Learning is a pedagogical model linking academic content with direct practice through critical reflection.
Service learning is unlike extracurricular voluntary service in that it is centered on academic knowledge development and thus guided by discipline-specific learning goals. Through experiential learning, students become engaged in and attain a deeper understanding of a particular discipline as concepts become more relevant.
A key component to this learning process, however, is critical reflection. Through reflection, students identify how their academic content knowledge has enhanced the value of their service and how their understanding of the discipline has been strengthened by their service.