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Service learning

Service-Learning is a course-based, credit-bearing experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to get further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility (Bringle and Hatcher, 1995).

Role of Service-Learning (SL) Unit

The role of the SL Unit is to coordinate SL projects and assist academics from all faculties and campuses to integrate community service into mainstream academic programmes and research. Another role of the SL Unit is to nurture and develop mutually beneficial partnerships between communities, higher education institutions and the service sector. The unit also provides academics with the resources, materials and guidance in the planning, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of SL projects.

How does the SL Programme work?

The SL project or programme is divided into three main phases; The Planning Phase, The Implementation Phase and the Evaluation Phase. The activities which are linked to these phases are as follows:

The Planning Phase

  • Registration of SL project
  • Design SL curriculum
  • Establish mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Manage Risk for students
  • Compile site visit schedules
  • Plan budget and explore funding
  • Plan project assistance (lectures, community site mentors, group leaders, etc.)

The Implementation Phase

  • Distribution of educational materials
  • Students implement on community sites
  • Students are monitored on site
  • Assessment of students’ projects
  • Student Reflection is conducted

The Evaluation and Review Phase

  • Partners reflect on project
  • Project is evaluated and project is revised
  • Reports are compiled and submitted
  • Research opportunities are explored

Although the project activities are allocated to three respective phases, some activities can overlap depending on the nature of the project and the agreement between partners.

Service-Learning Partnerships

Service-Learning has a triad partnership model that consists of CPUT staff and students, Community Partners and Service Providers (government departments and agencies). These partnerships are based on mutual trust, respect and a culture of sharing resources, skill and knowledge. Collaborative conceptualization of projects involves consultations with all partners throughout the project phases. The purpose of tripartite partnerships for SL is to foster:

  • Community Empowerment and development
  • Transformation of the higher education system in relation to community needs
  • Service delivery to previously disadvantaged communities (JET, 1999, in Lazarus, 2001:1).

Partnerships are also developed between corporate and large community organizations in cases where additional funding is required.

Benefits of Service-Learning for the different participants

Service-Learning projects aim to be beneficial to all the parties involved namely community partners, service providers and students.

Benefits for students

  • Students learn to apply principles from the module/course to new situations. This means that students are provided with a learning synergy that enables them to value academic learning along with community-based experiential learning.
  • Their sense of social responsibility and commitment to the greater good is advanced.
  • Students are provided with opportunities for active learning and problem-solving through participation in the community (Howard, 1998: 23-24).

Benefits for academic staff

  • Service-Learning allows lecturers to approach their curriculum creatively and in a way which can benefit both students and the broader society.
  • The role of the academic staff in the classroom is expanded from a provider of knowledge to a facilitator of critical synthesis and learning.
  • Lecturers are provided with opportunities for collaborative research on community development with internal and external partners.

Benefits for community and service partners

  • Community development is enhanced through staff and student involvement and students become more invested in the community.
  • The community builds links with the HEI and gets increased access to institutional resources.
  • The quality and efficiency of services offered to the community increase as the community and service agencies receive an infusion of creativity and enthusiasm from students.

Who to contact:

Ms Jacqueline Scheepers
Service Learning Manager
Tel: +27 21 959 6869
Email: scheepersj@cput.ac.za
 
Ms Gadija Solomon                           
Tel: +27 21 959 6868                             
Fax: +27 21 959 6100                            
 
Ms Theresa Burns
Tel. +27 21 959 6868
 
Ms Ziyanda Tobani
Service Learning Administrator
Tel: +27 21 953 8439
Email: tobaniz@cput.ac.za
 
Photographs:
  • Sports Management students implement their Service-Learning Recreational Programme with learners from Laerskool Edendal, in Manenberg together with the local Community Safety Officers.
  • Horticulture students share their knowledge with community leaders at the Cape Town campus nursery.