Maryland's Best Practices Evaluation Tool

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Answer these questions about your service-learning practice. Circle the bullets which most accurately describes your experience. Evaluate only one service-learning experience at a time.

Use this tool to explore strategies for strengthening your service-learning practice. High quality service-learning projects should meet all seven best practices. 
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1. Are students meeting a recognized need in the community?
  • No
  • Yes, students provide short-term assistance addressing a community need
  • Yes, students provide ongoing assistance addressing a community need
  • Yes, students work toward a lasting solution to a community problem

Answer the following questions: Who determined the need? How could you and your students tell that the need was met? How essential was it to the community that the problem was addressed?

2. Are you meeting curricular objectives through service-learning?
  • No
  • Yes, we incorporate service-learning into a unit
  • Yes, we use service-learning to unify the teaching of content and skills throughout the year
  • Yes, we teach content and/or skills in different disciplines using service-learning throughout the year

Answer the following questions: What skills are students learning through service-learning? What curricular content are students learning through service-learning?

3. Are students reflecting throughout the service-learning experience?
  • No
  • Yes, at the end of the experience, students contemplate their service-learning experience and receive a response
  • Yes, throughout the process, students contemplate their service-learning experience and receive a response

Answer the following questions: Who gives students a response as they reflect? Their peers? The teacher? The community agency? When do students reflect? How is the reflection structured to get the most meaningful response and discussion possible and maximize student learning?

4. Are you developing student responsibility?
  • No
  • Yes, we establish choices for students in how they implement the teacher-planned service-learning
  • Yes, we share responsibility with students for service-learning development and implementation
  • Yes, we facilitate student definition, coordination, and implementation of service-learning

Answer the following questions: How often do students work together in service-learning? What percent of service-learning is teacher driven verses student driven? Who plans and organizes the service-learning?

5. Are you establishing community partnerships?
  • No
  • Yes, we consult with community partner for information and resources relevant to the issue the service-learning project addresses
  • Yes, we create opportunities for students to interact with community partners
  • Yes, we collaborate with students and community partners as an action team to plan and implement service-learning

6. Are you planning ahead for service-learning?
  • No
  • Yes, we plan service-learning ahead of time without input from others
  • Yes, we collaborate with colleagues, students, and others to plan service-learning

Answer the following questions: Who is involved in the planning process? How far in advance do you plan?

7. Are you preparing students for the service experience by equipping them with knowledge and skills needed for the project?
  • No
  • Yes, we equip students with knowledge and skills at the beginning of the experience
  • Yes, we equip students with knowledge and skills as needs arise or as the project changes

Answer the following questions: What do students need to know to serve successfully? Do their needs change as they service-learning progresses? How? Do you explore the significance of their service-learning experience in relationship to citizenship and civic duty concepts?