Center for Teaching and Learning

Evaluating Service-Learning as a Component of Teaching in the Tenure Process


(Prepared by the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center at the University of Utah in conjunction with Faculty Friends, 1993-1996.)

Purpose: This document suggests criteria by which an interested department could effectively evaluate a faculty member's service-learning contributions in the teaching component of the
tenure process.

Rationale: Service-learning is a teaching methodology which links classroom learning and community service to enrich learning experiences and emphasize civic responsibility. Through service-learning experiences, students develop a sense of responsibility for their community and help to meet un-met societal needs. This document suggests criteria and documentation for service-learning in the evaluation of teaching.

Suggested criteria for evaluating a faculty member's Service-Learning teaching contributions:

  1. The service-learning contributions relate to the faculty member's area of scholarship.
  2. The faculty member's service-learning contributions are responsive to a recognized need of individuals, organizations or other entities on campus and/or in the community and have significant and lasting impact.
  3. Service-learning interactions are carried out in partnership with the community being served.
  4. The faculty member demonstrates that his/her students have provided a needed service to members of the community at large, rather than an exclusionary group.
  5. The service-learning methodology used provides a way for students to process and synthesize the impact of service-learning experiences on their understanding of the subject matter of the class.
  6. The faculty member demonstrates that he/she has broadened students understanding of civic involvement, even though students may also focus on career preparation.
  7. The faculty member acts as role model for students and other faculty, especially in developing the student's understanding of the importance of community involvement.

In addition to thinking conceptually about service-learning in the tenure process, the faculty member may want to consider the following when compiling a self-statement.

  1. Highlight the effects of service-learning on teaching and research.
  2. Describe a new or revised service-learning class as a teaching innovation.
  3. Note publications arising from service-learning course(s).
  4. Describe presentations on service-learning.
  5. Highlight innovations in teaching derived from service-learning.
  6. Include excerpts from student reflection journals (with student permission) that detail what students have learned.
  7.  Solicit external letters from students and/or community leaders describing how the professor's work changed or impacted the community.

Promotion and Tenure Considerations

(Adapted from the Service Integration Project of Colorado State University ; Western Washington University )

Tenure and promotion decisions are based on an assessment of teaching, research and outreach accomplishments. Evaluation decisions reflect not only what faculty do, but also, how well they do it. Scholarship is fundamental to the role of university faculty. Service-learning can take valuable time from scholarly activities, or it can be used to advance scholarship and enhance academic contributions.

Principles for Integrating Service-Learning with Scholarship

How to Increase Visibility of Your Effort

Suggestions for Receiving Departmental Support

  • Do integrate service-learning with teaching goals and department, college, and university priorities.

Don't view service-learning as an extra activity

  • Do document the impact and outcomes of service-learning activities on student learning and community intervention.
  • Don't emphasize the effectiveness of service-learning by describing only the activity.
  • Do use service-learning as a tool to refine and expand your instructional skills.
  • Don't separate service-learning from teaching goals as stated in annual faculty evaluations.
  • Do discuss your teaching successes and challenges with departmental colleagues, soliciting their input and taking the opportunity to discuss pedagogical issues.
  • Don't keep your service-learning activities a secret in your department.
  • Do experiment with different models and approaches, carefully assessing the effectiveness of each - be innovative.