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July 07, 2007

The 4 Hallmarks of Effective Project Based Service Learning

As we refine the terms of these Hallmarks, we begin to bring them more integrally into our trainings and workshops.

OWNERSHIP - When students are interested and invested in the completion of a project, they begin to own their educational processes.  When students own the project, all aspects, including mastery of curriculum become important to the students.

With ownership comes personal responsibility.

Completion of the project becomes important.

Employment of strategies like critical thinking, hypothesis, extension of learning becomes commonplace.

Motivation to succeed.

Ownership starts with YOU, the teacher!

Get invested in the processes of PBSL.  Initiate projects with your students that interest you, so you can authentically Model ownership.

Teach!

ENGAGEMENT - Ownership and engagement are essentially 2 sides of the same coin.  When students take ownership and personal responsibility for the successful outcome of their project, it follows that they are engaged and interested.  Any good Service Learning project will present students with many opportunities to think critically, make hypotheses, and extend what they have learned.  Engagement in the project is the door to performing these important skills which engender academic and civic success.

COOPERATION - Cooperation - Students working cooperatively in small groups to achieve  project based goals is a powerful methodology to achieve curricular and standards based objectives.  Moreover, when students are focused on the goals of a project, they are more inclined to negotiate with their peers and make persuasive arguments to get their point of view adopted by the group.  The cooperative nature of small groups working together for successful completion of the project has an extremely positive effect on the classroom climate and behavior issues are significantly mitigated.

CITIZENSHIP - Development of good citizenship skills as part of the fabric of teaching and learning is critical to the long term, real-life success of our students.

Civic skills give greater depth, context and meaning to student mastery of curriculum and standards.
Integral to a Service Learning project is the inclusion of Community Partnerships.  By their nature, professionals who freely give their time and expertise to benefit students are models of good citizenship.  In general, Community Partners model good citizenship in action.

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