Service Learning

Service Learning is a form of curricular community engagement that combines community service with classroom instruction to strengthen our community. Service learning is widely regarded as a high-impact practice due to its demonstrated impact on student learning, engagement and success. 

The S.H.A.R.E. Center leads and supports both curricular and co-curricular service learning both at Palo Alto College and in conjunction with community partners, such as Goodwill of Texas, Daughters of Charity, H-E-B, and the San Antonio Food Bank. 

Don’t know where to get started? Visit the S.H.A.R.E. Center in the Student Center, Room 101, or schedule an appointment with Hunter Bates, Service Learning Coordinator, by calling 210-486-3198 or by emailing hbates4@alamo.edu.

 

For Students

Service learning offers students an opportunity to practice academic theory in a real-world setting, as well as tapping into a sense of civic and social responsibility.

Curricular Service-Learning Opportunities

Community-Engaged courses include both Experiential Learning courses (courses that interact with the community in some form, including internships, practicums, performances for community, etc.) and Service-Learning courses (courses in which academic content is purposefully tied to meaningful service within the community). Click the course banks below for examples of current Service-Learning and Experiential Learning courses. If you have questions about opportunities for curricular community engagement within your academic degree pathway, contact Hunter Bates at 210-486-3198 or by email at hbates4@alamo.edu.

  • Service-Learning course bank 
  • Experiential Learning course bank 
Co-Curricular Engagement

Palo Alto College offers numerous service opportunities for students to engage with communities on campus and within the local community. 

  • Alternative Breaks offer students a unique opportunity to travel out-of-state for a week of service addressing a particular area of need within a community (e.g. homelessness, environmental conservation, health and wellness). Trips are offered in the winter and spring terms and are free for enrolled students. These projects involve significant service (usually 20-30 hours), as well as opportunities to fully integrate the experience by exploring the city and participating in individual and group reflections. To learn more about our Alternative Breaks, see student presentations from past trips, apply for upcoming trips, or propose a service trip destination and issue area, visit the Palo Alto College Alternative Breaks page in AlamoSYNC.
  • PAC Gives Back is Palo Alto College’s annual day of service, in which the campus community engages with several outside organizations to volunteer. Students can learn more about PAC Gives Back and RSVP for the event by visiting the PAC Serves page in AlamoSYNC. 
  • On-campus volunteering opportunities for students are available year-round. The S.H.A.R.E. Center relies on student volunteers to help with student and community advocacy tasks, such as stocking the food pantry, preparing emergency sack lunches, and helping with events like our Farmers Market and Food Fairs. To learn more about on-campus volunteering and RSVP for upcoming events, visit our PAC Serves page in AlamoSYNC.

For Faculty

For faculty members, service learning offers a new approach to a rigorous curriculum, as well as increased student participation and motivations.

Benefits of Service-Learning

Service-learning is a form of active learning and is recognized as a high-impact practice with benefits to students, faculty, and the community.

Student Benefits

  • Provides hands-on experience and career exploration
  • Develops students critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Faculty Benefits

  • Promote students' active learning; engage students with different learning styles
  • Help students achieve the College’s institutional learning outcomes, in particular critical thinking
Services provided

Professional Development: The Title-V Project Impacto grant provides funding for professional development related to high-impact practices such as service learning. This funding is available for both part-time and full-time faculty and staff. If you are interested in applying for funding or have questions, contact Delilah Marquez, Grant Project Director, at dmarquez1@alamo.edu. To request funding, complete the professional development form.

Support for Curricular Engagement: S.H.A.R.E. Center coordinator available to support faculty with community-engaged learning in the following ways: 

  • Community partner relations: Supporting faculty in building relationships with local community organizations for service learning courses.
  • Service learning course design and consultation: Our service-learning coordinator is available to review new service learning course ideas to help faculty find a structure and approach that works best for their discipline, learning outcomes, and course parameters. Faculty can get started by completing the Course Design Worksheet.
  • Classroom presentations: The S.H.A.R.E. Center provides classroom presentations on co-curricular and curricular service opportunities available to students.
  • Department presentations: The S.H.A.R.E. Center can provide presentations on service learning, grant funding available for professional development or projects related to high-impact practices (e.g. service learning, open educational resources, learning communities, etc.)
  • Student service learning orientation PowerPoint and course participation waiver and agreement forms

 For more information, contact Hunter Bates at 210-486-3198 or by email at hbates4@alamo.edu.

Community Partner Database

Palo Alto College’s community-engaged courses partner with a number of local community organizations. Below are some of our well-established partnerships.

While we value the depth of long-term partnerships, we also encourage faculty to propose projects with new partners, especially if the shared community project aligns well with the academic course content. Click here to view the Partner Database.

Service Learning Libguide

Faculty interested in learning more about service learning theory and practice should check out the Service Learning Library Guide. This library includes resources for syllabus design, reflection exercises, academic journal articles, as well as resources and service learning presentations. Click here to view the Library Guide.

Co-Curricular Engagement Opportunities

Faculty interested in community-engagement are not limited to only curricular methods. The S.H.A.R.E. Center is also looking for faculty members interested in co-curricular community-engagement in the following ways: 

  • Leading and/or proposing Alternative Break trips within their issue area they are passionate about. To learn more about PAC Alternative Breaks, past trips, and how to propose a suggested destination and issue area for a future Alternative Breaks trip, visit the Alternative Breaks page in AlamoSYNC.
  • Proposing and collaborating on community-engagement related events or guest speakers. The Project Impacto grant has funding available for events and speaker requests related to community/civic engagement. To propose an event of this type contact Grant Project Director Delilah Marquez at dmarquez1@alamo.edu.
  • Serving on PAC’s Community Engagement Committee or Community Partner Advisory Board. 
Community Engagement

Service-learning courses are one part of Palo Alto College’s larger institutional commitment to fostering a Community Engaged culture. Over the 2018-2019 academic year, Palo Alto College completed an application for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. Click here to learn more about this process and read the full application.