April 19, 2012

Integrating Service Learning into Curriculum

Professor John Reiff, the director of the Community Engagement and Service-Learning Program at University of Massachusetts Amherst, visited Wentworth on April 12 to speak to faculty and staff about properly integrating service-learning into a college curriculum.

In his lecture, Reiff explained the five core elements of service-learning: preparation, action, reflection, evaluation, and celebration. He said students must participate in each step in order to get the most out of their service-learning experience. When a student commits to a well-constructed service-learning course, he or she will learn in several areas—course content, skills, and attitudes and values.

Reiff also discussed how UMass Amherst has approached the incorporation of service-learning into students’ coursework, detailing UMass Amherst’s Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program, which supports professors who wish to incorporate service into their courses. In order to provide insight into how the program works, Reiff simulated a typical meeting of the program and had audience members explain how they could potentially incorporate service into their own courses.

The program’s meetings are meant to explore issues in the pedagogy of service-learning and serve as an arena for discussing experiences. When Reiff asked them to relate their courses to service-learning during the lecture, professors in subjects from art to economics were given chances to divulge how they believe their area of expertise can be combined with service-learning.

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