What is service-learning?
The Center for Community Engagement has adapted the definition of service-learning as defined by the National Commission of Service Learning. Service learning is a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities, while engaging students in reflection upon what was learned, what was experienced and how the community benefited.

How is service-learning different from say, volunteerism?
There are many types of community involvement. However, it is important to note some distinctions between service learning and other forms of community participation. The following has been adapted from Andrew Furco's "Service Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education".

  • Volunteerism: the primary emphasis is on the service being provided and the primary intended beneficiary is the service recipient.
  • Community service: the primary focus is on the service being provided as well as the benefits the service activities have on the recipients (e.g., one day beach clean up).
  • Internships: engages students in service activities primarily for the purpose of providing students with hands-on experiences that enhance their learning or understanding of issues relevant to a particular area of study.
  • Fieldwork: provides students with co-curricular service opportunities that are related but not fully integrated, with their formal academic studies.

When can I expect students to start?
If you refer to the CI Academic Calendar  you will see when semesters begin and end. When students start will depend upon the service-learning project , the amount of hours required by the course and what is decided upon by the faculty member and the community partner. Generally, an organization will begin to receive students within the first three - four weeks of the semester.

Will students stay beyond one semester?
Many service-learning projects may last only one semester. However, that same course may be offered the next semester with the possibility of a new group of service learners working at your placement site.

How many students will work with us for the semester?
When you complete the information in our community partner database it is very important that you list the number of students you can support each semester. Many of our community partners have over 20 students per semester, while others have just one or two. You should not take more students that you feel comfortable supervising and providing quality experiences and opportunities for.

What if students don't show up, stop coming, or don't complete their hours?
In the event that students say they are going to show up and don't, or if they stop coming all together after coming a few times, the first thing to do is contact the student directly  and ask what happened. In most cases the situation can be resolved at this step. If you are unsuccessful at reaching them or they do not return your calls, please contact the faculty member or the CCE. We are here to help you work most effectively and successfully with students.

What if my organizations can not facilitate on-site reflection?
Being able to facilitate on-site reflection is certainly not part of the criteria for being a community partner and should be done only if you feel comfortable with this process. Reflection does not have to be a formal process. Students are reflecting on their experiences in class through discussion, writing, reading assignments, and research. However, as co-educators you and your staff have something unique to add to a students coursework. You are the experts on your organization, and as such offer a "real-world" perspective. Think broadly and creatively in terms of what  reflection is and how you can a achieve that with your students. It could be as easy as walking down the hall with a student asking them what they achieved today. It is possible for you to even discuss with the faculty member ways you can compliment what is happening in class. For many ideas on reflection.

Who are the students participating in service-learning?
The CCE works with a variety of faculty and departments around the University. Therefore, the students coming to your organization will have a variety of majors and areas of study. Should there be particular student requirements your organization is looking for (i.e., areas of study, language etc.) be sure to note these in the CI SERVES community partner database.

What happens at the end of the semester?
Community partners will often be asked to attend end of semester presentations and/or to compete a student evaluation. The CCE may also send out a short survey to collect information for program planning and quality improvement.

What if I don't need service learners, but I do need interns?
Career Development Services provides a list of internship opportunities for our students. Click on the following link to see their webpage: Career Development