Learning through Service

Community-Based Experiential Learning

The Community Service Office provides direct and indirect support to faculty, students and local community partners as they embark together in community-based, experiential learning experiences.

Community-based experiential learning, or service learning, is an applied form of learning.  At its best, it employs rigorous academic pedagogical tools that enable students to make meaningful contributions to their community while building their academic, professional, and civic skills. It also provides an avenue for reflection aimed at integrating personal values, curricula & possible professional goals. By engaging young people in this type of educational experience, students may begin to embark on a life-long, personal journey that intentionally integrates and balances learning, serving, and professional endeavors.

Resources for Faculty

  • Explore with faculty what experiential community based learning opportunities may exist for their course content areas

  • Assist faculty in finding sites & opportunities that provide appropriate & relevant experiences for their students in areas such as:

    • Direct Service -- Providing labor or research for an institution in specific areas, surrounding related to course content. (Examples: designing and packing safe sex kits for an AIDS support group, writing curriculum for and running an after school science club)

    • Consulting -- Providing consulting in areas related to course content. (Examples: doing a needs assessments for a no-kill animal shelter or evaluating computer program used by a school to place a diverse group of children in the right classes)

    • Capacity Building -- Providing services related to course content that increase the capacity of the partner to do their work. (Examples: grant writing, computer programing, community organizing)

    • Civic Dialogue -- Providing locally engaged speakers for classroom dialogue on a topic related to course content. (Examples: farmers working toward sustainability for a politics of food course or a local advocate for immigrants facing domestic abuse for a course on policy & immigration)

    • Community Based Research -- Providing connections to partners who need research done in a particular area or who are interested/have a stake in the type of research being done in a course. (Examples: doing water quality research for a neighborhood association or studying steroid uptake in corn fertilized by feed lot manure for a sustainable farming organization)

      • For those courses in which community based research is taking place you will have access to the resources of DASIL (the Data Analysis and Social Inquiry Lab)

        • Help Locating and preparing data sets for use in class exercises.

        • Provide classroom assistance for teaching students how to use an agreed-upon set of software packages, including some suitable for qualitative, quantitative, and spatial analysis, or do student workshops.

        • Provide speakers and workshops on new analytic and theoretical approaches to data analysis.Help your students with data collection and analysis.

        • Help your students understand the IRB process

        • Help your students disseminate e-surveys used in IRB-approved research projects.

  • Provide liaison services between faculty, students & community partners

  • Provide connections to other professors and/or syllabi that include experiential components in similar course areas

  • Provide and maintain records of appropriate liability releases and on-site behavioral/work expectations agreements

  • Help with administrative logistics such as background checks etc.

  • Help document student participation

  • Coordinate student travel and provide funds while available for local travel when done in a carpool style

Resources for Students

  • Help identify work site when requested by professor

  • Help identify courses with experiential components

  • Help introduce context of particular sites

  • Provide appropriate waivers, background checks, etc. prior to serving

  • Help negotiate issues with work site

  • Help track hours worked at site

  • Process/reflect on experiences as requested

  • Access to the resources of DASIL (Data Analysis & Social Inquiry Lab)

Resources for Community Partners

  • Keep database of general information about your site and particular needs

  • Make sure students have all the appropriate waivers, background checks, etc signed prior to serving

  • Regularly check in with regard to current needs desiresLegitimize community's perspective/voice and see community as teacher as well

  • Serve as a liaison between community partners and faculty/students

  • Help identify additional ways Grinnell College may collaborate with partners

  • Help negotiate issues with students/faculty

  • With services of DASIL, formulate data gathered by students/classes into a usable format for grant writing, presentations, etc.