Community Service: About Reflection and Evaluation
Advisors and project leaders, use this guide provided by the Center for Student Involvement to reflect on and evaluate your volunteer experience.
Reflection helps increase sensitivity to community issues, expanding our capacity to serve more effectively. Reflection also lets you monitor service experiences through discussion and interaction, helping you feel both challenged and supported as you:
- Think critically about your volunteer or service experience
- Understand the complexity of the experience and put it in a larger context
- Challenge, but not necessarily change, attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, privileges, prejudices, and stereotypes
- Transform a single project into further involvement or broader issue awareness
- Ask "Why?"
The Social Change Model of Leadership can be useful in reflection activities. The model sees all students as potential leaders and views service as an effective way to develop leadership skills. It focuses on 3 main areas affected by the service experience:
- The individual
- The group
- Community/ society
- Reflective questions and activities center around 7 critical values:
Evaluation of each community service experience helps you determine if the project's goals and learning objectives were met and strengthens your ability to design and implement service projects. Evaluate projects from several perspectives:
- Consciousness of self is awareness of values, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs that motivate one to take action and better understand others.
- Congruency means thinking, feeling, and behaving with consistency, genuineness, authenticity, and honesty toward others.
- Commitment implies intensity and duration. It requires significant involvement and investment of one's self in the activity and its intended outcomes. It is the energy that drives the collective effort.
- Collaboration is the primary means of empowering others and self through trust. Collaboration can occur when one has trust in the diversity of multiple talents and perspectives of the group.
- Common purpose lets you work with shared aims and values. It implies the ability to engage in collective analysis of the issues at hand and the tasks to be undertaken.
- Controversy with civility recognizes two realities of any group effort:
- Differences in viewpoint are inevitable and valuable.
- Such differences must be aired openly but with civility.
- Citizenship describes the process that connects you responsibly to the environment and the community. It acknowledges the interdependence of all involved in the leadership or service effort.
- How successful was the project for the agency?
- How successful was the project for the people who use the agency's services?
- How successful was the project for each participant?
- How successful was the project for your group as a whole?
- What changes could be made to improve the project's overall success?
- Develop a brief set of questions and ask participants to respond in writing and then in small groups (time permitting). Sample questions:
- To what extent did the experience meet your expectations?
- What might have helped make your experience better?
- What community needs did your service fulfill?
- What community needs were not addressed?
- What would you do differently next time?
- How could you be prepared better for future involvement in the community?
Adapted from PARE, University of Maryland, Office of Community Service Learning