Title

The Service Learning Faculty/Facilitator Relationship: Tips for a Successful Relationship

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

4-13-2016

Abstract

Service learning is a long established, effective approach to instruction. Since Faculty Facilitators like the one at Georgia Southern University are relatively new, faculty remain unsure of their roles and how to work effectively with facilitators. Whereas much is known about effects of service learning on students’ learning, little is known about what makes a faculty/facilitator relationship successful. This information is key, as unsuccessful partnerships will result in reduced student learning and poor community relations.

Comments

Presentation Description:

Service learning is a long established, effective approach to instruction. “Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities” (National Service Learning Clearinghouse, 2012). Students who take classes that include service learning components experience increased academic achievement and student engagement, among other outcomes. Whereas much is known about the outcomes of service learning on students’ learning [1] , little is known about what makes a faculty/facilitator relationship successful. This information is key to successful partnerships, as unsuccessful partnerships will result in reduced student learning and poor community relations.

Service Learning Facilitators (SLFs) are charged with organizing, planning, coordinating and leading a service-learning project under the supervision of the classroom’s instructor.

In order to be appointed to this role, the SLFs are taken through a12-week intensive leadership training. Facilitator training is accomplished through a volunteer class designated “2100 LEAD”.

During this training, SLFs develop unique projects and emerge with the skills needed to facilitate their projects the following semester. At the end of the semester, the experienced SLFs become the trainers for the new SLFs entering. Extensive resources are always available to SLFs through Student Services Office and website. Further, face-to-face meetings, email and conversations with faculty keep projects on track. Good communication is the best indicator of successful or unsuccessful projects and a makes a smooth transition to the next semester.

[2] The first author has been a service learning facilitator at Georgia Southern University for the past three years. As a part of her role, she developed tips for faculty to work from to establish successful relationships with their facilitators, especially those (faculty and facilitators) new to the process and uncertain of their roles and actions. Although faculty fellows speak annually to graduating classes of undergraduate service learning facilitators, there was no advice available for unsure, new faculty. A worksheet was created, that will be shared during the presentation, which describes tips for working effectively with service learning facilitators.

Advice is categorized according to before the project starts, during the project, and toward the end of the project, in order to ensure effective practice throughout the project period. Prior to beginning the project, faculty are advised to clearly define roles and responsibilities, share and explain the course syllabus and learning outcomes, introduce the facilitator to the community partner, specify communication preferences and expectations, and confirm the frequency and mode of desired communication. During the project, faculty are advised to provide class time for the facilitator to obtain signatures on required time and explain the role of service learning in their class and project realities. In addition, faculty are encouraged to engage facilitators in engaging students in reflection, check in with community partners about facilitator performance, and conduct a mid-term evaluation. Finally, faculty are encouraged to take the following steps at the project’s end: provide the facilitator with meaningful feedback, and ask for the facilitator to provide feedback on faculty performance and the project design.

Sponsorship/Conference/Institution

Gulf-South Summit for Service Learning Conference (GSS)

Location

Savannah, GA