Criteria of Successful Service Learning Programs | Track It Forward

Criteria of Successful Service Learning Programs

Written by Kasey Murphy

Service learning programs are all different in every school and every age. But, surprisingly, they run on pretty similar circumstances and criteria whether in grade school or university. Service Learning Programs succeed when they have organization, motivation, and connectivity. 

If you are just starting out with your service learning program here is a comprehensive definition of service learning programs: 

“a pedagogical method wherein students apply what they learn in the classroom and work with community groups to address real-life problems. In this manner, students become active citizens in their communities.”

In other words, service learning programs are the activity of creating a program that promotes community service and engages students in helping the community through volunteer work and community service. These activities in the community will also link to the educational aspect and different programs that students are involved in school. 

Therefore: curriculum + corresponding community service = service learning program

3 Golden Rules For Service Learning Program Success

1 connectivity
Make sure there is a strong connection between the service-learning project, the students, and the curriculum. They all need to connect in order to be beneficial and have a long-lasting effect on the student! 

2 Motivation
Students need to feel motivated to volunteer and do community service - and not just because it is required! You want to make sure you are enforcing the connectivity to allow students to want to volunteer to learn more! 

3 Organization
Service Learning Programs require a lot of organization. The combination of curriculum, volunteer opportunities, and learning about both of these things in correlation requires a well-oiled machine! There are tools to help this!

Service Learning Programs Start With Ideas

Service Learning projects can almost be formulated from every idea that you can think of that correlates with a curriculum that students are learning. 

For example, let’s say your students are studying education and specifically the different psychologies of children and their learning processes. A service learning idea might be to have students volunteer at schools with an integrated curriculum with special needs students who might have behavioral disadvantages. This is a great way for students to see in real-life how different individuals learn differently.

Any idea that you have that connects with a subject in a curriculum can usually be formulated in the community. If there is an existing and established volunteer program in the community that has the opportunity existing for students to volutneer, this is great! 

But, it should also be noted that many organizations would love to create volunteer opportunities and would be happy to for large amounts of people, especially students who are learning! 

If you have an idea that would go with a certain curriculum, reach out to community organizations to see if there are existing programs that students could volunteer for in a service learning program! 

In addition, you can think of service learning programs in the opposite way. If you know of a volunteer program or community service opportunity that you feel students will benefit from and learn from - then think of a curriculum that matches this and present it! 

For grade school students or younger students, the volunteer programs and community service activities can be less comprehensive. 

Service Learning Program Ideas

Different Service Learning Project Ideas
Learning about necessities and what people need to survive.

Service Learning Project Organization

Service learning project and program organization can be quite difficult. It is important for those who organize and keep track of service learning projects are extremely organized. 

The aspects of service learning projects need to be organized in the following aspects:

  1. How the service learning project matches the curriculum

  2. Different service learning ideas to correspond with different curriculum or with different focuses

  3. How many hours of service learning project qualify for the service learning program

  4. Any rules or regulations that need to be followed by students when volunteering 

Service Learning Matching Curriculum 

When you create a successful service learning program you need to make sure that the connectivity between the service learning project and the curriculum is strong. Be sure to create a statement with proof and data that provides a solid foundation for your service learning program.

Different Options of Service Learning Project Ideas 

If you have to present your service learning program to a board or need to give many different options, it is important to think about your service learning program in different ways and perspectives. This gives more of a choice to students as well, which helps promote inner motivation.

Tracking Service Learning Program Hours 

If your service learning program takes place in a college or university, the service learning program might be strict with the amount of hours that a student needs to do in order to receive credit. If this is the case, you need to be really organized with tracking service learning program hours. You can do this with a time tracking software tool! 

If your service learning program is for younger students, it is still strongly recommended to be organized and track service learning program hours. This will help showcase how involved students are in the community. 

A service learning time tracking software tool that can help students track their hours, see their total hours towards a requirement or goal, and allow organizers to see different service learning programs and projects, and run reports! 

If you are looking for a service learning program software, Track It Forward is for you!

Service Learning Project Regulations

Be sure to present all details of the service learning project and program to students, and parents if the students are younger. There should be something similar to an orientation for students who are participating in service learning programs to fully understand what they need to do.

Service Learning Programs are a great way to showcase a need for extra help in the community and how everyone can help out in some way, and learn about their environment!