What Students Learn From a Community Service Field Study Project

What high school students can learn from the experience of creating a service learning program for their community is impressive.

They participate in what is called a “Field Study” which encompasses all of the elements of the “Critical Skills.” Furthermore, they have the satisfaction of creating something valuable and useful for other students and their community in general.

The value of “Field Studies” was highlighted in the US Department of Labor’s publication, “Teaching the SCANS Competencies” for the rich learning experience provided by such efforts.

In some instances the students can obtain credit for “independent study,” and, at the worst, they have a very powerful addition to their resume and/or materials they provide for college admissions.

The Field Study requires the student team to do the following:

  • articulate their project from the beginning and to seek and obtain school permission to conduct such a project;
  • form a structured team to include a “team captain” who is essentially in charge of each element of the project;
  • identify community service organizations which might be interested in providing an unpaid service learning internship for students;
  • prepare an interview guide which will be used to interview each community service organization;
  • conduct the interviews of all of the community service organizations identified;
  • with each community service organization, design the position description that articulates what a service learning student intern will be doing on the job. This includes making sure that the assigned tasks have substance;
  • analyze the results of the interviews and develop their findings, conclusions and recommendations;
  • prepare a plan for implementation of the program;
  • prepare a final report of their work to include their findings, conclusions and recommendations developed from the interviews, the position descriptions developed for student interns, and a plan for implementation.

Conducting a Field Study may sound like a daunting task; however, students CAN do them so long as they are supervised by an individual who has some experience in such projects. Such individuals may often be found among the parents in the community and do not need to include school faculty time.

Don’t be afraid to give such a Field Study a try!

You WILL be successful and the rewards for the student project team as well as the students who eventually participate in a structured service learning program are great.

Go for it!


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