Service Learning Practicum

June 21, 2011

Required materials

This is an experiential learning course; i.e. you learn by doing and by application of information and techniques acquired in previous courses. There is no text for this course, but background information and appropriate web links will be posted online.

Course description

Numerous SJC courses have service learning components; CO 403 is a major experiential learning experience that uses the service-learning model to develop and enhance professional conduct. The course also gives students the opportunity to produce professional quality work for pre professional portfolios and work samples.

Often there is confusion about the differences between internships and service learning projects. The mechanics of the courses are similar, but the philosophies and structures differ. For example, as an intern you write news releases, shoot and edit video and update websites under the direction of a site supervisor. As a SL student you meet with potential community partners, assess their needs and use your talents and expertise to recommend and then create solutions. The terms supervisor and partner are significant. In the internship experience the site supervisor tells you what to do; in the SL experience you work collaboratively and equally with a partner to solve communications problems.



At the conclusion of the course you will have:

  • Synthesized learning through a final written, reflective report
  • Produced a professional quality final deliverable (print, electronic, other)
  • Created and submitted a journal of service time and observations
  • Evaluated and met the needs of a community organization and its clients
  • Refined your own personal philosophy of community service



We will meet regularly to discuss progress, problems and share resources—some of you may have greater expertise in video editing, others may be more comfortable creating web sites. While you will have primary responsibility to your community partner, it is reasonable to ask others in class for help with specific problems. You are allowed to miss two scheduled meetings; each successive absence will reduce the final course grade by one point.


Clearly it is easier to assign grades for objective exams and quizzes—but those tools are not available in this course. In internships you often work for sophisticated site supervisors who are used to evaluating job performance. In SL you are working with community partners—many of them organizational volunteers—who may be less experienced. To accurately assess your performance the following tools will be used:

  • Initial analysis and reflection of the SL experience—what you expect, what you hope to accomplish, your understanding of how SL fits into an academic program. You should develop this as a research paper with appropriate web and library research, with the addition of your own thoughts 15% of course grade
  • Signed agreement between you and your community partner, detailing what you will be doing, when and how you will be doing it, and what final deliverable will be produced 15% of course grade
  • Regular, weekly journals that detail what you did, how the activity met your expectations and how much time was spent involved in the SL project 25% of course grade
  • Final analysis and reflection of the SL experience; you should re-read and analyze your initial paper before completing this assignment 15% of course grade
  • Performance analysis from your community partner; the document is similar to the site supervisor form in the internship package—the SL form will ask your partner to review your performance, attendance, enthusiasm, and rate the final deliverable 15% of course grade
  • Attendance and participation in weekly SL conferences; initially these will be held each class day, then each Monday as you move into the field phase of the experience 15% of course grade


Community partners include service organizations, civic groups and not-for-profit groups recognized by the IRS Code. We do not work with for-profit organizations or businesses.The following SL projects are available this semester; we will discuss these in some detail and you can select which one(s) interest you:

Rippling Waters Farm ( is a community based organic farming organization that works with students in the Standish school system to promote gardening and food sufficiency. Adjunct Professor Chris Carden is actively involved in this organization. As an SL participant you can expect to help the group develop and maintain its newsletter, create and place newspaper and television stories, produce an informational DVD or help with website upgrades.

Sr. Sylvia produces and delivers meditational audio messages on the college website; these have attracted international attention for their spirituality and ability to comfort people. We will videotape Sr. Sylvia, add b-roll materials in post production, group these inspirational messages into appropriate themes, and then create and copy DVDs. Sr. Sylvia is a remarkable woman and this project will further help her Ministry and help those people seeking spiritual comfort and guidance. These same video messages may also be streamed on the college website. This project may include development and production of a standardized open and close for the messages, actual message production, and DVD production and distribution.

Webcasting We are involved in a long-term program with the athletic department to air SJC events via the campus website. This spring we plan to produce a weekly or bi-weekly news program with news, sports and college features. These will be taped and streamed on the campus website. Later in the semester we will air live game coverage (basketball, baseball, perhaps others). This project will also include the active recruitment and training of your successors, so that the project will be ongoing. If you select this service learning area, you will work with first year students in Professor Hufstader’s production class. You will act as executive producers, and the first year students will provide video, stills, web design elements for your projects.

Riding to the Top This therapeutic riding program is based in Windham; it works with youngsters with physical and developmental issues and trains them to ride horses in a safe, controlled environment. Riders gain self-confidence, self-respect and improve their physical coordination. John Hufstader’s production classes have been heavily involved in taping and interviewing. This is an opportunity for one or two SL students to assume the roles of executive producers—you would assume responsibility for coordinating taping dates, editing sessions, community relations and supervision of students in lower level production classes. It is a great opportunity to add professional level work to your sample portfolio.


School: Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Professor: William Yates
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