University of Delaware


An integral component of Service-Learning pedagogy, faculty-directed reflection is the process through which students integrate their experiences in the community with the theory they study in the classroom so that they can begin to respond to experience using a more critical framework. Reflection is most meaningful when structured as a series of questions that have students connect their service experience to the larger issues you wish them to consider in their readings.

Principles of Service Learning Reflection

Compiled by Kathleen Rice, informed by many sources, listed below.

  1. All partners model, participate in, and benefit from the reflection process.
  2. Reflection activities are designed to connect service experience and classroom learning.
  3. Service-learning course outcomes provide a foundation for each service learning activity. Each reflection activity has desired outcomes that relate to the course outcomes.
  4. Opportunities for reflection are intentionally designed, and integrated throughout the course, both in and outside the classroom.
  5. Community partners and faculty agree on the content and the process (design, implementation, assessment) of reflection activities and assignments (at a minimum, those that involve the community partner).
  6. Opportunities for engaging in reflection in culturally relevant ways, that are meaningful for a diversity of students, are provided (e.g. artistic, more/less structured, affective as well as cognitive, oral, written).
  7. Reflection activities guide students in examining their own perspectives and assumptions about themselves, their community, and the organizations and people they are working with in the community, and the impact of these perceptions on their service.
  8. The relationships between power, privilege, prejudice, oppression, root causes of inequality, the service they engage in, as well as the academic content they are studying are intentionally explored.
  9. Reflection activities invite to students to consider their goals as professionally and/or personally community-oriented people (e.g. what would it mean to be “a socially responsible accountant,” “a community biologist,” or a “civilly minded parent”? Are these goals they have for themselves?).
  10. Reflection activities are designed to facilitate exploration of self, community and issues rather than ask students to develop pre-mature solution to complex challenges.
  11. Each student is both challenged and supported throughout the reflection process.

Sources: Cruz, 1995; Eyler, Giles and Schmiede, 1996; Mintz and Hesser, 1996.

Using Reflective Writing in your course

The UD Writing Center has developed a tipsheet for faculty called Using Reflective Writing in Service-Learning. Which provides suggestions for using low- and high-stakes writing in course design, managing the paper load, and grading.

In addition, a tipsheet has been developed to be specifically tailored for reflective writing in service-learning courses in science and engineering.


Service-Learning Online Course Survey

The Community Engagement Initiative, in conjunction with the Office of Educational Assessment, has developed an online Qualtrics survey to evaluate students’ experiences in service-learning courses. This set of questions is meant to be used as part of the traditional end-of-course evaluation. In addition, open ended questions provides students the opportunity to comment on their experience.  Contact Susan Serra to request the link to the survey.


Report from the Fall 2005 Retrospective Pre-test Pilot Survey

In Fall 2005, UD piloted a retrospective pre-test survey to assess the impact of service-learning on 186 undergraduate students. The executive summary noted that service-learning positively influenced students commitment to community service, civic efficacy, awareness of social problems, ability to see applications of course concepts to real world settings, and skills that include creative, logical and ethical thinking. Students’ responces to an open ended question about the value of service-learning indicated that 78% of the sudents reported clear benefits to a service-learning course as compared with a traditional college course. The complete report can be found below.

Pilot Assessment of Service-Learning at the University of Delaware in Fall 2005

Faculty interested in participating in future studies should contact the Community Engagement Initiative for more information.

For additional information on course assesssment please see the Office of Educational Assessment website.