Frequently Asked Questions about Service Learning (SL)
Will the time involved in planning a Service Learning course be worth the results? In other words: does it take too much time?
Planning the logistics of a service learning class or component will take time and energy. This, of course, is the case with any academic pursuit. To minimize that time, the Community Service staff is more than willing to assist in the planning and organization, and as partnerships grow with community organizations, the process will become smoother. Right now, SL is something new at Endicott, and we must work to adapt to Endicott's academic model. As the program grows, we will be able to anticipate more challenges, and the amount of time required will lessen.
Should SL be optional?
This is up to the professor and the nature of the course. Having an optional service requirement may be appropriate for lower-level courses, when students are still searching for direction and need many different opportunities. For upper-level courses, a requirement might be beneficial to make sure that students are getting the most of their academic program by comparing and contrasting their experiences with concepts and ideas pertinent to their discipline of study. Again, the decision between required and optional is ultimately a case-by-case one.
How is SL different from traditional volunteering?
Service Learning is different from traditional volunteering because it is a part of the academic curriculum and course credit is earned for the performance of service and the reflection upon that service. With SL, it's not simply about earning credit by fulfilling a community need (though that is essential). It's ultimately about what is learned through the service.
How is SL different from an internship?
Although Service Learning offers practical experience and even possible job contacts, SL is not designed simply as preparation for future placement in the work force. Job training is not the focus of the experience. Rather it is designed to enhance course material as well as provide a needed service to the community.
How do I evaluate students' performances in a SL course?
An integral aspect of service learning is the reflection that follows the service. Evaluation is both quantitative (fulfilling the required hours) and qualitative. Reflection journals, papers, presentations, in-class discussion, or anything else that requires students to analyze, reflect on, and critique their experience are all viable methods of evaluation.
How will students be matched up with appropriate agencies?
The Community Service office has information on and contact with numerous community-based organizations. Professors and students can work with the office to find appropriate placement. As the SL program grows at Endicott, this process will only become more streamlined as we learn which organizations are most receptive to community service learning.
Are there any methods for students to evaluate the agencies they work for and vice versa?
As the program continues, it will be important to institute a method of evaluation for both the students and the agencies. Mid- and end of semester evaluation forms for both parties will allow faculty and the Community Service office to evaluate the effectiveness of community partnerships and student volunteer placement.
Who will keep track of the students' service hours?
Students will track their own hours using a pre-made contract provided by the Community Service Office. The number of hours a student claims to have completed is confirmed by the agencies' mid- and final-semester reviews
How many service hours should be required?
The amount of hours is largely dependent on the type of service, the community organization, and the overall course-load; 15 - 35 hours is within the expected range.