What would it take for to ensure that every service-learning practitioner possesses the opportunity to engage in effective professional learning every day?

The Providers’ Network Professional Development Guidelines paint a detailed and practical three-part picture of what is needed.

The National Staff Development Council created a well-known set of professional development standards for any subject (available at www.nsdc.org). Their work divides standards into three categories: Context Standards, Process Standards, and Content Standards.

Following their example, the Providers’ Network seeks to create a set of professional development standards (which we call guidelines) designed exclusively for service-learning. We will use their broad framework but address each guideline to specific requirements of fostering quality service-learning professional development.

While there are multiple factors that influence the success or failure of professional development, we agree with the National Staff Development Council that there are three main types of variables.

Context Guidelines: The “When,” “Where,” and “Why” of Professional Development

“Context characteristics address the organization and the nature of the system in which change will occur. They are the underpinnings–the system foundation—upon which professional development occurs.” Without the right context, the likely impact of any service-learning professional development will be sporadic and weak.

Process Guidelines: The “How” of Professional Development

Process variables refer to how professional development activities are planned, organized, delivered, and followed up. They reflect what we know about good facilitation and how people learn new skills and knowledge.

Content Guidelines: The “What” of Professional Development

Content characteristics are primarily the new knowledge, skills, and understanding that are the foundation for quality service-learning practice. The eight standards for quality service-learning practice form the core of content variables.

Adapted from: Colorado Statewide Systemic Initiative for Mathematics and Science (1997). Professional Development Criteria: “A Study Guide for Effective Professional Development.

Inviting Your Feedback: We will upload the three different sections in stages. Now available is the Context Guidelines. We are inviting feedback from the service-learning field through August, 2010. Tell us what you like about the Guidelines and how they can be made even better and more useful. Offer Feedback.


Using the Guidelines
Advocate Educate key gatekeepers about what is necessary for service-learning professional development.
Plan Use the Guidelines to help plan professional development.
Assess Self-assess a current professional development program.
Educate Jointly explore and debate best practices in service-learning professional development.
Field-BuildingFoster a high expectation for quality professional development within the field.
Grant RFPProvide criteria for grant applications.
EvaluateGather feedback on program quality and areas for improvement.

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Reflection Questions Before You Read the Guidelines

Think of a professional development initiative where you felt most alive, most stretched, most excited by what you were learning. Where were you, what was the content and characteristics that made this experience stand out among so many?

What are the current strengths of service-learning professional development in your school/ organization? What is it that you already do well?

If you wanted to improve the quality of professional development in our school/ organization, what would be three wishes that you have?

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Adding Resources

If you have know of other resources that would be helpful, there is a place at the end of each Guideline to add to the references already listed.

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Editors/Authors

Overall Editors: Drs. James and Pamela Toole of Compass Institute and the University of Minnesota

  • Context Guideline Editors: Jennifer Piscatelli, Terry Pickeral, and Lisa Guilfoile, National Center for Learning and Citizenship, Education Commission of the States
  • Process Guideline Editors: Drs. James and Pamela Toole
  • Content Guideline Editors: Dr. Shelley Billig, RMC Research Denver

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Advisory Group

Context Guidelines: How do we build a supportive environment of leadership, policy and resources to support service-learning professional development? (11 Members)

Context characteristics address the environment (internally and externally) in which service-learning professional development will occur. It identifies the key elements required for professional development to be successful.

Susan Abravanel Youth Service America, Washington, D.C.
Lisa Bardwell FrontRange Earth Force, Denver, Colorado
Lois Brewer Seattle Schools, Washington
July Conway Waseca School District, Minnesota
Larry Fletch Washington State
Kim Huseman Quest High School, Texas
Lynne Kavash Moorhead Schools, Minnesota
Cassie Landry Louisiana Serve Commission
Terry Pickeral (Editor) National Center for Learning and Citizenship, Colorado
Yolanda Reid Georgia Middle School Guidance Counselor
Matt Robinson Kids Consortium, Maine

Process Guidelines: How do you design, deliver, and evaluate service-learning professional development? (18 Members)

Process variables refer to how professional development activities are planned, organized, delivered, and followed up. They reflect what we know about good facilitation and how people learn new skills and knowledge.

Connie Abert University of Wisconsin Extension Services
Julie Rogers Bascom Edina Public Schools, Minnesota
John Durand Galt JUESD, California
Jon Erwin Smart Character Choices, Michigan
Erin Hudson Calaveras County Office of Education, California
Tracy Harkins KIDS Consortium, Maine
Anne Larson Moorhead Schools, Minnesota
Shannon Malone Youth Service California
Rachel Meytin PANIM, Maryland
Beth Nickle Bailey High School, Missouri
Amy O’Neill Pennsylvania K-12
Frances Shani Parker National Youth Leadership Council, Michigan
Sandi Ryack-Bell The Dunn Foundation, Rhode Island
Lauren Satterlee Youth Venture, Minnesota
Jan Schuster Missouri Regional Center
Ana Solar Earth Force, Colorado
James and Pamela Toole (Co-Editors) Compass Institute & University of Minnesota

Content Guidelines: What is it service-learning practitioners should know and be able to do? (17 Members)

Content characteristics address the new knowledge, skills, and understanding that are the foundation for quality service-learning practice. The eight standards for quality service-learning practice form the core of content variables.

Shelley Billig (Editor) RMC Research, Denver
Joe Follman Florida Department of Education
Carolyn C. Foxx North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Anne French North Adams, MA Public Schools
Barbara Gasdaglis The Brown Foundation, Louisiana
DD Gass CampFire USA, Missouri
Shannon Malovrh East Range Partnership, Virginia
Philip McFarland Wildwood School, Los Angeles
Fran Rudoff KIDS Consortium, Maine
Jennifer Shiner Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Indiana
Liberty Smith National Service-Learning Clearninghouse
Nicholas Stahelin Peace Corps Fellows Program, Teachers College, New York City
Michael Slavkin University of Southern Indiana
Diane Vance Smart Character Choices, Michigan
Veray Wickham San Joaquin Co. Office of Ed., California
Kelly Williams Georgia Public Schools
Barb Witteman Concordia College, Minnesota

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