UMass CESL promotes learning for life-long, engaged citizenship, partnering with communities on and off campus to work collectively for a more just society.

Assessment Toolbox

For many of the tools listed below, instructors have found it useful to jumpstart students' reflections on their service-learning prior to assigning a reflection assignment.  During the class before the assignment is to be given, do an in-class, written reflection. Let them know you are looking for a deep, thoughtful reflection. Provide them with a prompt such as "As a result of your service-learning experience, how has your understanding of what it takes to be an engaged citizen (or effective change maker...or similar) changed?" or “How has your understanding deepened regarding the use of technology in community-based organizations?” or develop a similar question that relates to the learning goals of your course.  Have students share (best in pairs or triads) and then in the larger group. Discuss the learning that has taken place for various individuals in the class. The students may ask each other questions, and the instructor can guide the conversation deeper, if needed. Faculty have found that this gives them an opportunity to talk about their service-learning experience, more fully consider how it connects to the learning goals of the course and helps prepare them to reflect on, and write about, their learning in a deeper way than they might have done otherwise.
Early and end-of-the-semester (pre/post) writing assignments
Early and end-of-the-semester use of the Service Thermometer with a final writing assignment asking students to reflect on any changes in their views of service revealed by the Thermometer.
Post-semester open-ended interviews with students exploring what they learned, and how they learned it
End of semester reflection questions
End-of-the-semester survey
Group Powerpoint
These materials were compiled by a group of faculty from UMass Amherst and Holyoke Community College (HCC) to provide options for faculty teaching Civic Engagement or Service-Learning courses to learn more about the impact of these courses on their students.  It is our hope that individual faculty members using these assessment tools can identify what their students are learning through the course and can identify ways they can improve their course to maximize its impact on student learning.  

Each semester, we invite service-learning faculty from UMass and from HCC to participate in focus group discussions to share what they’ve learned through these (or other) assessment methods in their courses and to share the challenges they’ve faced.  Faculty have found these discussions very valuable in continuing to strengthen their courses and their assessment within their courses.  

Instructions for using the Assessment Toolbox:

1)      Please find one or more tools that you’d want to use because they will help you understand what your students are learning.
2)      Bring yourself and what you’ve learned  to a focus group discussion after the semester ends.

This initiative was supported by funding from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Vision Project.