Service-Learning Contract Option

The Service-Learning contract option challenges students to move beyond the volunteer role by connecting academic curriculum to hands-on learning. Service-Learning is a form of experiential education which requires students to engage in critical reflection while meeting a social need. Essentially, students who select this option will work with an organization that is meeting a community challenge and pair that experience with what they are learning inside the classroom. Students who successful complete their Service-Learning contact will receive Honors units for their academic course.

Your Honors Contract is available here.

What type of assignments will I do?

Each SL project will be unique. The only common factor will be the use of critical reflection. Critical reflection is a key component of Sl. As a part of your Honors Contract you will need to include reflection components where you detail how your coursework is connecting to your hands-on community service learning.

For example, upon your completion of your service-hours, your critical reflection could include paper(s) or summaries. When articulating this in the contract you could include, how many reflections you will include, the length of the assignment and when the reflections will be due.

What information do I need to have ready for my Service-Learning Contract?

  • You will need to know what organization you plan to work with.
  • You should have a plan for how many hours you are anticipating working with the organization. Please note there is no minimum time requirement.
  • You will need to describe the work you plan to do with the organization in order to earn honors credits for the course.
  • You will need to determine with your course instructor on how you will earn Honors Credits.

Need help developing your Service-Learning contract? Email Cheree Meeks


Student Perspective

Christina Calden headshot

Name, Majors, Hometown

My name is Christina Calden and I am from Seattle, Washington. I am studying Dance, Criminal Justice and Pre-Law.

What was your service-learning contract?

My service-learning contract with the Honors College was for a Police Community Relations class taught by Officer Frank Hand who works with Tucson Police Department.

What impact has service-learning had on your life/career/next steps?

As a double major with dance classes throughout the day and criminal justice classes online, I have a very hectic schedule but I would not trade it for anything! The service-learning opportunity that I was able to experience during the 2020 Fall Semester allowed me to work at my own pace and find inspiration through other people's passions for the community. As a young adult, many of us see various opinions shared in the media and if I were being honest, I did not know where my thoughts and opinions stood. Through the service-learning project, I was able to hear from a number of individuals with different insights which has helped me build a stronger understanding of where I stand. I also was able to discover various career paths that I never would have thought about if it were not for this opportunity to make connections with the community.

Why did you decide to do a service-learning contract?

I decided to do a service-learning contract because I wanted to find a better understanding of Police Community Relations in a broader sense than just what a textbook has to offer. I was essentially able to connect the factual information from the textbook with what community leaders had to say as well.

Who was someone you met that inspired you? Tell us a bit about them.

Someone that I met during the service-learning project was Margo Susco who is working with the volunteer program at Tucson Police Department. She inspired me because she started out as a business owner before working with the police department and I resonated with her career path as I considered the many possibilities for myself after graduation. It often feels like everything is up in the air but I also do not think I will be going into a criminal justice career right after graduation. I hope to dance after college and see where life takes me to then circle back around into the criminal justice field. I expressed this to Margo Susco and she was very kind with her words of wisdom and assured me that wherever life takes me, that I will always find a way into something that I love and that I am passionate about!

How did you set up your service-learning contract?

I did my service-learning contract during the 2020 Fall semester which was also during an unprecedented time due to the pandemic and resulted in my project not resulting in how I originally planned. Although I wanted to experience a job-shadow-like scenario, it was not possible, but I was able to do one-on-one interviews through zoom calls with individuals who worked at the Tucson Police Department. I essentially worked with the professor, Officer Frank Hand, to put together questions that would connect the individual's job with community relations. During the zoom calls, it was simply a conversation and I truly was able to learn about the positive relationships that are built with the community as well as possible factors to be improved.

Describe your plans after college? How will you stay engaged with the community?

After graduation, my plans are to dance with a company and perform - which has been something that I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember. I have always loved performing because the smile that you see from the audience is just breathtaking. You never know what people are going through but through dance you may be the person that makes someone smile. Eventually, I plan on working in law enforcement and hopefully become a detective one day. It is a long road ahead of me but I am excited for the journey!

Any advice you would have for someone trying to set up a service-learning contract?

For those trying to set up a service-learning contract, I would suggest reaching out to people and don't be shy about it! People in the community want to hear from you so that they can better understand what the community wants and needs. I also suggest finding a strong bond with your professor that you are working with because they are there to help you through this project and it allows for both the student and the professor to build an even stronger insight in
the topic.

Sample Service Learning Contracts

What organization are you working with?

For my service-learning contract, I will be working with the Pima County Health Department.

Why did you select this organization?

This organization will provide a hands-on learning experience that pairs with the academic coursework in this class More specifically, in this course we will analyze how epidemic and infectious diseases created historical watersheds that have shaped our world history socially, politically, environmentally, and economically to the present day. Pima County Health Department has a project ready for me to tackle that considers how COVID-19 will impact the Tucson community. The SL project will directly look at the social impact of COVID-19.

How many hours per week are you anticipating to work with the organization?

I will volunteer 20 hours throughout the semester. I plan to go two hours a week. I selected this time length because of the capacity of the project I will be working on should be completed within 20 hours.

Describe the work you will need to do with the organization to earn honors credits for the course?

I will be working with a communicable disease investigator to investigate possible disease sources by interviewing patients and contacts. I will be preparing reports that will lead to education services to the public.

How is critical reflection used in your assignments?

I will write 2 critical reflection papers (one due October 16th and the other one due November 27th). In these reflections I will critically analyze the history of epidemics and evaluate how social, political, environmental, and/or economic perspectives are influencing the response to the current COVID-19 epidemic, specifically within Pima county. In these reflections, I will present my own ideas and philosophies derived from my volunteering experience and use course materials to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between historical epidemics and COVID-19. Each critical reflection will be maximum of 3 double-spaced pages and I will need a minimum of 3 citations from course materials or other relevant, peer-reviewed articles to support my critical reflection arguments and perspectives.

How will your instructor determine if you have earned Honors units for the course?

At the end of the semester, the instructor will verify that I have volunteered for a minimum of 20 hours My instructor has designed a grading rubric for the critical reflections, and they will be assessed on the content. Between my instructor and service site, completion of my project will be presented to my instructor.

How will your instructor verify that you completed your hours with your site?

I will track my hours and have a site manager email confirmation to my instructor.

How often will you meet with the faculty to review, discuss, and reflect on your experiences at the organization?

I will meet with the faculty 3 times throughout the semester to discuss how my volunteer experience is going and to receive feedback on my critical reflections. The meetings will be done through phone calls or Zoom meetings.