Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Service-Learning Specific questions

Instructors who are new to Service-Learning may be hesitant to incorporate a service-related project into their classes due to anticipated problems or unanswered questions. Below, we address potential concerns and offer some solutions from instructors who have “been there”.

I understand that one of the benefits of Service-Learning is that it gives our students a more active, responsible role in their own education. However, I don't want to give up all control over what my students do in my class; I expect certain material to be learned.

The instructor must decide the requirements for his course and all Service-Learning projects connected with it so that course objectives will be met. These should be spelled out in the course syllabus so that students know from Day One what will be expected of them. Providing your students with a workable timetable and copies of necessary forms (available in this handbook) will allow them to do their part (contacting agencies, arranging interviews, setting up a contract, doing the agreed-upon work and providing evaluations) with your minimal involvement. However, class discussions, readings, assignments and evaluations are up to you, just as always.

I'm concerned about the kind of chaotic classroom a Service-Learning project might create. If my students are volunteering at a variety of agencies, won't it be difficult to have focused, meaningful discussions about their experiences that the whole class can appreciate? And isn't there some risk that students will give their service experience more attention than my regular course content?

It is unlikely that students will become so consumed by their volunteer work that they will lose interest in the rest of the course. Ideally, a Service-Learning project enhances and reinforces course material, allowing students to see in action those concepts, which are being explored in class.

Instructors may be pleasantly surprised to find students more actively involved in class discussions and projects because of their experiences and volunteers. Service-Learning gives students plenty to think and talk about. Although no two students are likely to have the very same Service-Learning experience, that can work to the class' advantage, as each student has something unique to share. Discussions thus take on the kind of complexity and variety that can lead to meaningful insights