FYI: Deconstructing Time, 2008
Heath Massey,

Student Commitment: 10-15 hours
Developmental Stage: basic (new to community-based learning)
Community Partner(s): the Merrill Community Center, the Welty Environmental Center.
Resources: Course Syllabus, Experiential Learning Assignment

In his experiential learning handout, Professor Massey wrote:

As a student at Beloit, you’ll do much of your learning in classrooms, lecture halls, science labs, and the library. But you’ll also have many off-campus opportunities, and these may take some exploration to discover. As a component of FYI, you will explore some of the opportunities for experiential learning in the city of Beloit by doing a minimum of 8 hours of community service during the fall semester.

After completing their service hours, students wrote a 3-4 page personal reflection on their experience of "giving time."

This service learning project was a simple and elegant way to make a relatively small investment of time valuable to both the students and the organizations they served. Particularly, its inclusion of a reflection essay addresses a fundamental aspect of service learning: that students must reflect critically on their experiences to integrate them successfully. Other points of note include the following:

  • Students were empowered to choose where they volunteered while being restricted in their options. This was an excellent way to involve student agency while freeing them from a time-consuming search for a site. It also allowed Professor Massey to focus on two community partnerships instead of as many as he had students.
  • Both the Merrill Community Center and Welty Environmental Education Center are community sites which need unskilled volunteers. A lack of specialized training can sometimes form a barrier to service learning. By ensuring his community partners could use his students, Professor Massey helped address their needs as well as his class's.
  • The reflection essay was tied to the greater course goal of understanding what it meant to "give time." A clear link between the course and the service learning project can go a long way toward making the community-based learning experience valuable to students.

PHIL 100. Introduction to Philosophy, fall 2010
Robin Zebrowski,

Student Commitment: minimal
Developmental Stage: basic
Community Partner(s): Help Yourself, coordinated by the LAPC
Resources: Assignment Description (pdf), Workshop Outline (pdf), Student Reflection Paper (pdf), Student Reflection Paper.1 (pdf), Student Reflection Paper.2 (pdf)

Assignment: Philosophy for Children

As a group, you all need to be familiar with the book to which you are assigned. You should all have read it (possibly several times) and coordinated amongst yourselves ways to prompt the young students into asking interesting questions. You should not plan to ask the questions themselves- your job is to get them to ask those questions. You are there to lead them into those territories and help moderate the conversation once those questions are asked. Part of your job will be having enough familiarity with your book that you can anticipate the sort of questions they might raise, and find ways to volley the conversation back onto their shoulders, getting them to have a philosophical conversation. One of you (or all of you, if you want to do it that way) will be responsible for reading the book out loud to the students that day, and then all of you will facilitate the conversation.

There is a book on reserve in the library for our class called “Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature.” The author (Thomas Wartenberg) does a great job of describing some techniques for getting younger students to ask philosophical questions and think philosophically. It is a simple book to read, and even just skimming it might help you. Each group might consider having 1 member look at the book to get ideas, or maybe you all want to give it a glance.