The paper should be between 2000 and 2500 words long. Please do not exceed the page limit.
The following points are additional suggestions:
This is not intended to be a research paper. Here is your chance to think deeply about your experiences in your volunteer placement this semester and integrate this with what you have learned about community psychology. Your experience is your primary data source.
The real intention of the paper is to demonstrate your own thinking about your experiences. You can speak from a personal place – use “I”.
An exhaustive literature review is not needed. To get a better understanding of the setting and how its work fits into a community psychology framework, you may consult helpful material such as the textbook, the organization’s website and some literature on the population or social problem.
In the rationale section, try to thoroughly answer the question “Why are they providing these services?”. For example: What gaps are there in services in this region that this is designed to meet, what evidence exists in the research, what do participants say about their experiences trying to solve their issues and access services?
Psychological environment/sense of community… How do you feel at the place? How do participants feel there? In your opinion, what does the organization do well or not so well to create a sense of comfort, belonging and community? ( from TE – Note that this does not replace using other theoretical constructs and principles to analyze the setting and your experience).
Evaluation… How well does the organization integrate the principles of community psychology? In your opinion, does the organization succeed in meeting its own mandate? Why or why not?
Personal learning… Reflect on your experiences and how these have impacted you. Try to be really specific. For example, you might share a very brief description of an experience and then explain what it meant to you, how it challenged your assumptions about yourself, and changed the way you think about the people you encountered.
It is our hope that as you reflect on your experiences in writing this paper, your insights into the value of your experience and the changes in yourself will deepen.
Please note that style matters here too. Clear, well-organized, interesting writing
About 1/3 of the length should be on Mission Rationale/Background (i.e. the topic area) as it is worth about 1/3 of the content mark. This section will require you to do some research about your topic area. You need to do enough research to communicate to your reader the background of the topic and the rationale for the existence of the setting. For example, to answer why temporary shelters needed you need to research academic and government publications concerning homelessness and its effects and how shelters are useful or not.
About half of your content mark will be based upon the originality and mastery with which you integrate concepts covered in class and in the text with the experiences or observations that you have in your community setting (points C, D and E below). Other areas specified below should also be addressed. Do not write more than a short paragraph on the Introduction as that will be covered in your posters or presentations.
At the end of your paper you may also include a short section that evaluates the setting and describes whether or not you think that it will be a valuable setting for future students in this course, and why. An additional mark will be awarded for completing this section.
Style and clarity will make up 20% of the mark you receive. The ideas, insights, and observations that you share in your paper can only be valuable if they are expressed clearly. This is true for all academic writing. You do not need to worry about following every single APA formatting guideline; that being said, please follow APA format for your in-text citations and references, and please use double-spaced 12-point font.
The paper will be marked out of 100 (20 for style and clarity), and should address the following (content marks for each section are listed in brackets):
A) Introduction (4 marks)
Describe your community service setting. What is its mission? Who are the clients served there? What were your responsibilities there?
B) Rationale (25 marks)
What evidence exists for the need for this type of service or activity or organization? Describe from the social science or other literature some background to the problem, any relevant theory, what approaches have been tried and with what results?
NOTE: Parts C and D will vary according to the setting and your experiences and interests – (36 marks)
C) Community Psychology Core Values
Describe – Which core values of community psychology are emphasized in this setting? How are these core values put into action there? Do the actions of staff or members match the stated values of the setting?
D) Theoretical Analyses
Describe this setting in terms of concepts covered in class and in the textbook. You may wish to analyze this setting in depth using just one or two of the concepts covered in the course or you may find it useful to relate it to several models or concepts. It’s your choice as this section allows you to demonstrate your theoretical understandings. Decide if the people in this setting share a sense of community. Have you noticed any aspects that are enhancing or retarding empowerment? You may wish to develop an analysis of power within the organization, discuss diversity, present appropriate models of stress and social support etc to complement your analyses.
E) Evaluation of Community Service Setting (6 marks)
Is the organization fulfilling its mandate? What evidence exists to support your conclusion? Is this quantitative or qualitative? Are there efforts by the program to engage in program evaluation? Are there areas of a program evaluation that were not assessed that you believe might be helpful? If no program evaluation has been done, briefly describe what variables you would want to examine and why. Then describe how you might proceed to do the program evaluation.
F) Personal Learning (9 marks)
Describe what you learned during this community service. Discuss any specific experiences or incidents that were important for your learning. Also, explain any way in which this experience changed your viewpoint about yourself, the setting or the people there, or your view of community life. Describe any values that you strengthened or changed during this experience. Describe any skills that you learned or strengthened through this experience.
(G. optional – added to end of paper–(one extra mark). Evaluate the setting in terms of its value for future students in this course. Indicate what was helpful for your learning, what was not helpful and in what ways community service experiences in this setting could be improved.