On August 12, 2001, I attended the Civic Engagement in the Classroom workshop at Centre College in Danville, KY. The day long workshop convinced me that it is possible to incorporate service learning into any class experience. I'm going to incorporate it into my Introduction to Anthropology Class this semester, so stay tuned on updates about how it goes. Here are some take away notes that in no way encompasses the awesomeness of the workshop.

Presentation by Kentucky Campus Compact

Service-Learning targets the base of the "cone of learning" i.e. learners retain the most when they are saying and doing.

Service-Learning is an educational experience based upon a collaborative partnership between college and community. Learning through service enables students to apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to meet genuine community needs. Through reflection and assessment, students gain deeper knowledge of course content and the importance of civic engagement. (definition developed by the Berea College Service-Learning Advisory Committee, March 2004)

UK has a page that discussed Service Learning http://www.uky.edu/careercenter/faculty/service-learning though none of the .pdf links work at the time that I wrote this.

At minimum service learning should incorporate three parts: Academic goals, Service Goals, and Reflection. During sustained service learning projects venues for deepening the service learning experience will reveal themselves. Dr. Janet Rice McCoy from Morehead State created a public relations boot camp to introduce the service learning partners to what her students were learning in order for the partners to provide feedback on the student's work.

Civic Reflection (reading literature and reflection on relation with central pieces of civic life) may get at the same learning goals without the logistical difficulties of a full service learning project. http://www.civicreflection.org/

Presentation by Richard Sheardy & Cynthia Maquire from Texas Women's University and focusing on SENCER

Civic Engagement – using our skills to make life better for our community through political and non-political processes

SENCER is a NSF-funded program that encourages teaching science through service learning and connection with real life issues.

Civic Engagement can be operationalized in two ways: creating a new course or modifying an existing one by inserting civic component, field trips, guest lectures. The engagement component needs to be required or students won't do it. Make it at least 10% of the grade, 4-6 hours of activity, write a paper about the activity

To help with the logistics of planning engagement offer credit for a second engagement activity to student coordinator.

Provide clear and concrete examples of what counts as an engagement activity, without structure to model their projects after they will have difficulty.

Model courses that comply with SENCER requirements can be found at www.sencer.net 

Examples of Service Learning at Centre College and Tips

Ensure that students write about links to the literature they are covering in the classroom. Use a journal to keep track of the hours and reflections over time.

Working with schools requires background checks, so these may not be logistically possible sometimes.

This is a post written for http://arf.berkeley.edu/then-dig/ which I also posted here.

Archaeology is destructive.


In our quest to reconstruct the life ways of past cultures we depend on the intact context of archaeological remains. The necessary irony of archaeological investigations is the systematic dissection of intact cultural deposits in order to study and preserve past cultures. Once these deposits are destroyed, the only place they are fully documented are detailed field notes taken by archaeologists.


Field notes are arguably the most important tool in the archaeological toolkit. Yet, they are often the most overlooked and under-appreciated (at least until they are needed during the artifact analysis or report writing stage).  That said, there is no single best way to take notes (though some would probably argue otherwise). Pre-made sheets with blanks inevitably have fields that aren’t needed from project to project. Different phases of any archaeological project require different types of notes. The availability of different technologies open new avenues for documenting archaeological remains.


At some point in our archaeological careers we will be required to write an excavation report without the benefit of having been in the field for that particular excavation. Writing a report completely based on a set of field notes made me realize how critical these notes are to facilitating the later stages of a project and future visits to the project area. Having written reports from field notes at both sides of a continuum from non-existent to overly detailed, I’ve laid out three note taking philosophies that I have shared with several students during archaeology field schools.


<strong>Don’t put off taking notes.</strong>

You are in the middle of this feature excavation and don’t want to interrupt your work flow with note taking. You can remember that the initial fill stage was excavated as “Zone A”, a sample of a charcoal lens was taken and is contained in aluminum foil in the “Zone B” artifact bag, and a single diagnostic projectile point was recovered just beneath the charcoal lens. 


Ok. Well what if a city bus suffers a mechanical failure, careens into your excavation unit, and squishes you. All of that information that you were <em>going</em> to write down is lost. The poor archaeologist that has to write up the notes on your excavation will probably get a headache trying to figure out how the charcoal and projectile point are related. 


Sorry, not realistic? Ok. You have your notes in your head. Get rained out of the field. Soaked, dirty, and grumpy you decide to have a few margaritas at the Mexican restaurant next to your cheap hotel. A Law and Order marathon is on television (again), but you get sucked in anyway. You wake up in the morning with your “Rite in the Rain” field book stuck to your face with a mixture of drool and 10YR 4/3 silty clay loam. Vital details about your feature may or may not have made it into your field book.


<strong>Locate your notes in space</strong>

This can be done in several ways.


Note the grid coordinates (Northing and Easting or UTMs) of whatever it is you are documenting (remember to note the depth below surface or below datum!)


Record the angle and distance from your location to several permanent landmarks. Road intersections, property markers, and building foundation corners are good. Porta-potties are not. You never know a city bus could suffer mechanical failure and run into the porta-potty and your spatial reference is gone.


Remember, someone should be able to locate the areas that you are writing about while relying solely on your notes.


<strong>Add some interpretations</strong>

Thinking about what you are excavating helps you catch details that support (or refute) your working hypotheses. 



While not every interpretation will be correct, hypotheses will prompt you to record details that support your model and prompt you to change the interpretation when you encounter something that doesn’t fit.


<strong>Make your notes clear and make copies</strong>

Once you are in from the field, give your notes a once over. Annotate them in a different color pen so the stages at which the notes were places on the paper can be differentiated. Make copies or scans of your field books so a bus with mechanical problems doesn’t burst into flames and destroy your only copy.


Notes are a serious matter, they are often the only record of an intact archaeological deposit. While they don’t have to be works of art, they do need to be clear and accurately reflect what you excavated. 


If others can’t understand what you worked on, then what makes you different than a looter?




Problems arise when the same grid datum is not used for subsequent visits to the same site. In this case different grids were used on different sides of a road that passes through a site.

Fortunately, this was a quick fix as the geophysical anomalies tested by these units and trenches were the result of natural processes.

"… every book, any book, holds the promise of all others, both mechanically and intellectually… Every text is a combination of the twenty-four letters of the alphabet… For that reason an infinite combination of these letters would give us a complete library of every conceivable book past, present, and future: 'the meticulous history of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels… the true account of your own death…" — Alberto Manuel in "With Borges"

Next Page »