I am currently in the middle of teaching a 200 student undergraduate Soil Science course with a service-learning component. The service learning component is something I and another instructor (who teaches this course fall and winter terms) added to the course about 2 years ago. I’m really excited to be doing this workshop. Being in the middle of teaching (wrestling with?) a service learning course reminds me of how many important aspects we have not yet figured out, despite the fact that we have already implemented this experiential learning strategy. Taking the time now to reflect and improve is very important to me.
Here are some of the challenges I struggle with. First, we’ve had trouble “editing” this course- we only seem to add and add and add. I love the idea of spinning off the service learning into a 1 credit “extra”, mentioned by a couple other members of this group. This is more appealing than eliminating other parts of the course, because I already feel serious obligations in terms of content and skills to cover because this is both a foundational science course (part of ~20 majors) and a Bac Core course. I need to clarify for myself what workload for students outside of the classroom is appropriate for a certain number of credit hours. There are a couple of concerns that come to mind, however. One is whether the additional 1 credit for the service learning should be optional? We would obviously sacrifice some of our impact if the only students who were exposed to community engagement were students who were already interested in community engagement. My second concern is about adding to what already seems absurd level of complexity of our course requirements at OSU.