What are the benefits of service learning?

  • PROVIDES HUMAN RESOURCES -- Helps an agency meet its immediate educational, human safety, and environmental needs. The talent, energy, and enthusiasm of our university students are applied to meet these ever-increasing needs.  In the longer term, it can help a community agency recruit possible future professionals for the field. 
  • DEMOCRACY -- Students may commit to a lifetime of volunteering after this experience, creating a democracy of participation.  Student input can improve agency performance and give professionals fresh perspectives on the community they serve.
  • CREATES CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY -- Fosters a renewed sense of community, which may encourage participatory democracy and wider public understanding and support for the agency.
  • BROADEN AGENCY GOALS -- Community agencies gain the opportunity to participate in an educational partnership. Helps agencies maintain programs that lack government resources

As a community partner, what would be expected of me?

Collaboration with a QU instructor to specify the issues, problems, or needs that SL students from this particular course might really be able to help with during the course of the semester. Community partners would be expected to work out the kinds of SL projects, numbers of students, and times of service that would genuinely help your agency or program. It is important that you orient and supervise students carefully. You would be encouraged to share your thoughts in the design of the course, its syllabus, and methods of evaluation. You would be welcome to speak to a class, if you wish. You would be expected to familiarize students with your agency or organization and the needs on which the class would be helping, either on site or in classroom. You would be expected to help the faculty member monitor student service and play some role in the evaluation of service learners in your agency. Finally, you would be encouraged to collaborate with your faculty partner in presenting a written or oral evaluation of your SL course experience and any other observations about it, to the SL committee.

As a community partner, how much time and energy will SL absorb?

A legitimate question and very possibly a problem at least in initial SL collaborations. Faculty members, community partners, and students will have to be clear regarding the amount of staff time they would be able to "spare," remembering that the effect of a successful project would be to meet a real need that would otherwise not be served or be served only with a yet greater outlay of staff time. It is likely that students would need an orientation and an on-site contact person able to answer questions and, if necessary, resolve conflicts between students and the community agency.

Additionally, it will usually be good for the community partner to be participate in some of the classes--at least those dealing with the kinds of needs the project is designed to respond to.

How can we ensure that the SL component meets the expectations of both the faculty member and the community partner?

During the design stage of the course, it is advisable to write down faculty-community agency agreements. These areas of agreement can serve as a guide or an informal contract by which all "sides" can shape the experience and measure progress. The SL point person in the Career Center should be able to provide assistance or samples.