Community Service Learning
Community service learning (CSL) is the combination of academic study with community service so that each is enhanced by the other. Through a process of structured reflection, the service experience is integrated with the lessons of the classroom to enrich learning outcomes. Research on CSL has repeatedly demonstrated that “students' thinking and reasoning become more complex after taking community service-learning courses”. (From “Impact of Service-Learning and Social Justice Education on College”, Wang and Rodgers, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Journal article, 2006.)
Though there are similarities with other forms of experiential learning, such as volunteering and internships, CSL differs in important ways. First, unlike a volunteer or community service experience, CSL requires a strong academic component, i.e. an intentional connection to academic study. Second, though the service experience may develop a student's professional skills, the most lessons learned are usually civic knowledge and civic skills along with social responsibility. Thus, CSL sits at the intersection of three components – academic learning, experiential learning, and civic learning.
The CSL office in order to support faculty and students participating in community engaged work, has produced a 13 minute video called “Give Back”. This video uses images, interviews, and text to provide information on the City’s Diverse neighborhoods and cultures, background on how to with communities respectfully while doing community engaged work, and provides clarity about student’s rights/responsibilities, as well as faculty expectations around civic engagement and leadership development. The universal language of the film serves to encourage audiences to examine power, privilege and stereotyping through the lens of interrelatedness and cooperation.
This video is part of the university’s responsibility to train students before they participate in a community engaged experience. All SF State Students participating in community engaged work are required to watch this 13 minute video and download the Certificate of Completion-Video form acknowledging that they have done so. This form needs to be returned to the course instructor.
CSL at SF State During 2012-2013 Academic Year
CSL Course Sections: 451
Students Enrolled in CSL Courses: 8,670
Students CSL Hours (Estimate): 232,237 (Average of 54 hours per student)
Clients Served (Estimate): 134,385
Value of Services to San Francisco Bay Area communities @ the City of SF 2010 minimum wage of $9.92 per hour: $2.3 Million
Five Key Elements of Service Learning
Service-learning can be incorporated into all disciplines. The following five key elements of service-learning address what students should know and be able to do as a result of their participation in a service-learning activity or project. All five elements should be present in every service-learning activity and should work in concert to create powerful teaching and learning experiences. The service-learning experience should:
Meet a real community need
Be integrated into and enhance the curriculum
Involve collaboration with a community agency, another school, or the community at large
Help foster civic responsibility
Provide structured time for reflection
CSU Commitment to Community Engagement
In the early 1990s, the California State University (CSU) began to recognize the value of service learning as a vehicle that would meet the state's changing educational needs while also imparting vital civic skills and knowledge. In 1997, infrastructure was established to support community service learning at all 23 CSU campuses.
The Community Service Learning (CSL) Program coordinates campus-wide CSL into the curriculum at SF State by: (a) helping faculty identify and/or develop their CSL courses; (b) identifying appropriate placement sites for the service component; and by (c) helping community partners (businesses, non-profits, and public/government agencies) connect with appropriate departments and faculty. One resource we offer is a web-based database called “ULink49”, which contains the names and contact information of more than 150 community-based organizations whose sites have been approved for community service placement. It is accessible to SF State faculty, students, and registered community partners only.