Maria Cotera
3666 Haven Hall
Ann Arbor, Michigan







Preparatory Assignments–Community Service Learning

The following three preparatory assignments are to be submitted in class by the dates listed on the syllabus.

Assignment #1
Community Service Research:
This assignment involves two basic research projects:

1) First, read 2-3 articles on community service learning and write short reflection pieces on each article (no more than 1-page in length). These reflection pieces can be used later in the semester as the basis for the bibliographic annotations in your Mini Resource Book (see assignment #3 below). For a list of articles and other resources on community service learning go to our "Community Service Learning" Resource Folder on Ctools.

2) Second, find out as much as you can about the community service organization you have chosen to work with. You can accomplish this by doing web research, collecting literature or data generated by the organization, or interviewing someone who works for the organization. Write a summary of your findings (2-3 pgs.) that addresses the following points:

  • Background information – When was this organization first established? How has it changed over time? What are the main goals or objectives of this organization? What population does it serve? What are the needs that it addresses? What is the staffing situation in this organization? Are there paid staff members? Is it only staffed by volunteers? Does the organization have an institutional connection to the University of Michigan or another state agency? If so, what is the nature of this institutional relationship?
  • Your Involvement–What will you do in this organization? Will you work in an office, or go to another site? Will your work involve interacting with the community? Or will you provide administrative support for the organization (doing research, grant writing, office work)?

Assignment #2
Reflection Paper:
In this short paper (3-4 pages) you will describe how your experiences as a volunteer have connected with either the readings or the lectures for class. Think about what you have learned in the course so far. Has it deepened your experiences as a community service volunteer? Have your experiences in community service transformed the way you think about class readings and lectures? Basically the objective of this paper is to get you to think more philosophically about the ways in which "book learning" and "experiential learning" might be intertwined. Pick one specific example where this might be the case. For example, if you are tutoring Spanish-dominant children in an ESL program, did any of the lectures and readings during the first half of the semester change the way you felt about the kids you were working with? Remember to give specific examples.

Assignment #3
Mini Resource Book:
Compile a list of six (6) sources that might be used as a resource for someone else undertaking this project. A few of the sources should deal with community service learning as a pedagogical and political practice. The rest of the sources should be about the specific area in which you are working (education, family services, the environment). Ask your community service contact person or administrator for recommendations on articles and/or data that you might be able to include in your Resource Book. You may include online sources but make sure that at least four (4) of the resources you list are either journal articles, essays, or books. Organize the sources following the format of an annotated bibliography, following each bibliographic reference with a short paragraph (3-5 sentences) that explains why you have included it on your resource list. For information and tips on finding sources for your bibliography, see the building a bibliography resource page. For information on compiling and formatting, you can check out the Cornell University's guide on preparing an annotated bibliography. You can also check out Professor David Porter's example to get a better idea of what an annotated bibliography actually looks like.

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