Assessment in the service-learning context can range from conventional grading to a much richer feedback process centered around learning outcomes and established criteria and working with various learning styles and perspectives*.
Goals and Criteria
Starting with the goals and learning outcomes identified during the project design phase, establish very specific objectives for the service-learning project. Also establish very clear criteria, standards, and critical skills for the project and the students. Students' self-stated goals, objectives, and criteria may also be incorporated. These are the basis for accountability at the end of the project and should be included in the project at the beginning- in the course syllabus if at all possible.
Continued feedback should increase the intensity of the learning experience by increasing the overall reflection time for the student. Moreover, allowing for constant revision of the project may increase the quality of your project and enhance the 'real-world' experience for the students. One way to frame continued feedback is by setting milestones for continual monitoring of progress. This allows for a very tangible comparison of where the project is, where it should be, and what can be done. Achievement of these milestones may serve to further motivate students and partners. Other methods involve informal 'check-ins' with students and partners, peer feedback sessions, group mini-reflections, mini-scoring rubrics, and so on.
Generally speaking, the reflection component is key to the assessment process. It is the culmination of the continual feedback and assessment. This component actively encourages higher thinking and integration of lessons learned into the student's perspective.
Evaluating and grading
This step should be based upon the goals, objectives, and criteria established earlier in the course. The feedback and reflection components allow the professor to review multiple pieces of evidence. Rubrics, exams, checklists, and scoring guides are common methods. Likewise, often the summative reflection piece is graded.
The desired outcome of assessment is quality feedback that contributes to the learning experience and to personal growth, while allowing for closure.