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University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu

Service Learning

Service Learning is a method of teaching that engages students in meaningful volunteer service to the university and local communities. Service opportunities provided by faculty in their courses engage students in active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning experiences that meet community needs while deepening and expanding classroom learning objectives. Service learning can be an integral aspect of the university learning experience when integrated into course assignments, student research, practicum settings, and internships. Through service learning UH West Oʻahu students learn to apply their skills and knowledge as change agents who support community well being and foster a better quality of life for all. The goals of service learning are to:

  • Apply, extend and deepen skills and knowledge learned in the classroom through service to the local and university communities.
  • Provide support to local community agencies.
  • Develop a sense of civic responsibility and community well being.
  • Encourage leadership in education, employment and civic responsibility.

UH West Oʻahu will recognize excellence in service learning at commencement. Students will be recognized with a certificate of accomplishment and a lei. To gain recognition at commencement, students must participate in a minimum of 30 hours of service learning (verified by their instructors and/or site supervisors) during their coursework at UH West Oʻahu.

Benefits for Students and Faculty

For students, service learning is an opportunity to get as much out of your education as possible. Through service learning, abstract ideas and theories become concrete as they are used to make our world a better place. Courses with service learning expectations are grounded in authentic experience and make learning come to life in exciting and fulfilling ways. By participating in service learning students learn leadership skills, develop core values and hone perspectives that will be valuable to an employer or to further one’s education.

For faculty, service learning is an effective method for enhancing and deepening the knowledge and skills engaged with in class. Service learning expands the walls of the classroom by grounding learning within the exploration of invaluable real-life experience. Research has shown that students who participate in focused service learning in a course retain information better and have a deeper understanding of course material. To achieve the most effective results service learning should be deeply integrated into the course expectations and assessments.

Service Learning Course Characteristics and Outcomes

Recommended course characteristics

  • Include a minimum of 20 hours of service participation per semester.
  • Service projects have clear and specific learning objectives related to course content.
  • Instructors work with participants to draw the connections between the service that participants are providing and what they should be learning.
  • Students are given organized time during the course to reflect on their service.
  • Service learning projects are based in strong partnerships with community groups that include mutually agreed upon goals, roles and responsibilities.
  • Learning expectations and service are emphasized in all projects.

Recommended Student Outcomes

Student:

  • Demonstrates a heightened awareness of their community and understanding of community needs, problems and resources.
  • Describes the quality and quantity of their interactions in their community, to include their attitude about their service experience and benefits gained both for student and community partner based on students service.
  • Expresses increased sensitivity to a community with which they are unfamiliar.
  • Makes clear connections between course content and their community service.
  • Describes career directions they might follow as a result of their service.
  • Develops new communication skills needed to work with community.
  • Recognizes personal weaknesses and strengths relative to their service.
  • Changes previously held beliefs as a result of their work with the community.
  • Recognizes community partner as expert and is compelled to provide partner with quality work.
  • Identifies changing roles of instructor, peers, and partners in terms of learning and teaching.

Responsibilities

  • Students record and verify their service using the appropriate forms.
  • Student records (timelog and sign-up forms) are turned in by the faculty to the Community Engagement and Service Learning director at the end of each semester.
  • Faculty collect and turn in Assumption of Risk and Release forms to the Community Engagement and Service Learning director.
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