Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions broken down by stakeholder group (Faculty, Students, and Community). The specific stakeholder identifier will enable you to identify questions that pop up frequently for that group. However, you may want to review all of the questions in order to enhance your overall knowledge of service-learning at the College of Coastal Georgia.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our office at: ServiceLearning@ccga.edu or (912) 279-5716 or (912) 279-5976.
What is Service-Learning, and why am I doing it?
Service-Learning is a teaching and learning method that integrates critical reflection and meaningful service in the community with academic learning, personal growth, and civic learning. In other words, this program will give you the opportunity to learn by doing. You will engage in service-learning both because it is part of the course curriculum, and because it is a great way to contribute the community while learning, through hands-on experience, the topics covered in your class(es). Think of these service activities as part of your course work and an extension of your classroom learning.
Is there a minimum service hour required?
The minimum amount of service hours that is suggested for your course is typically 15 hours regardless of course credit hours. However, faculty members determine the time commitment student will need to complete in order for students to realize the benefits of the service and the connection to course objectives. Plan ahead, and determine how many hours you will need to engage per week throughout the semester so that you don’t pile up all your hours at the end of the semester. Typically, students plan to engage in service activities at least 2-3 hours a week over 5-8 week period. Some professors choose to focus on completion of a certain project and less on the strict hour commitment.
Why would faculty members place a minimum requirement for service hours?
Service-learning typically requires a minimum number of service hours so that students have enough time to achieve the learning goals and objectives related to your service. Some of our community partners have particular needs out of students completing service-learning projects. So, having a committed amount of hours also helps them plan for your time there and helps them set expectations for service-learning project goals. Some of these organizations have limited resources, so it's equally important for them to know that the time and effort they dedicate to hosting and co-educating service-learning students will benefit their goals too.
What if I don’t finish the required hours for my site because my schedule always conflicts with the site’s events and activities? Do I have time for service-learning?
College life can be a bit overwhelming at first, as you may be dealing with your classes, work, family, friends, and other activities - that’s why it’s helpful to plan ahead. Most service-learning courses only necessitate 2-3 hours per week over 5-8 weeks. Often times, faculty members allow for use of class time or chose to decrease the academic load (readings and other assignments) in order for students to fulfill their service-learning projects. When you choose a potential site, choose one that can work with your schedule prior to beginning your service-learning project. Schedule conflicts after you have committed to a site will not only affect you, but your service site and your professor. Generally service-learning faculty members are willing to work with students to come up with creative ways to fulfill your service-learning requirements. If you do not finish your required project or service hours, it will affect your overall course grade. Indirect service projects are activities that benefit the student and community partner that can be completed remotely without going to the organization/service site.
Will I be graded for my service work?
Students do not receive grades for the service hours themselves. However, students receive grades for the learning that takes place as a result of engaging in the service experience(s). Students will express their learning through reflective class discussions, writings, and presentations. The service is an extension of the course experience, and learning will be assessed in many of the same ways as traditional in-class learning.
How do I keep track of the hours I am spending doing service-learning?
During your service-learning course orientation, one of our staff members will hand you a Student Time Sheet that you will use to keep track of your hours throughout the semester. Take care of this time sheet, since this document will be used as proof you have of your time spent completing service-learning activities. If you are doing direct service, you can have your site supervisor sign off on your hours. If you are doing indirect service, your professor can sign off on your hours. Be sure to capture any and all hours spent toward your service project even if you surpass the 15 hour minimum.
What if I feel like my service work is not aligned with course goals and objectives?
If you feel the service you are providing to the organization is not fulfilling the intended community need or your academic goals and objectives, then address the issue directly with your professor. Sometimes it is hard to make the connection between the intended learning goals and the service. The point of service in service-learning courses is to enhance the course learning and the experience. If neither of those goals is being fulfilled, it may be time to revise the project first with the faculty member and then with the community partner.
Remember that any work you do with a community organization has a much bigger impact than you may realize. Reflection activities should help you make explicit connections from your service provided to the academic content. Be sure to use these as opportunities to explore the impact your services are having on the organization, their clientele, or the community at large.
What if my community partner is not responding in a timely manner?
Please keep in mind that our community partners are often busy with their current responsibilities. Be sure to use respectful, professional communications. In your first meeting with the partner, faculty members and students should exchange contact information and set up a communications plan. Give the partner some time (at minimum 3-4 days) to respond to your inquiry. If they have not responded after the 2-3 day time frame, a follow up call or e-mail is appropriate. Again, remember to use professional communication. If partner agencies still do not respond after a week or so, please contact your faculty member or Center for Service-Learning staff for suggestions or help.
Can I include service-learning on my resume?
Service-learning can be just as important as work or education on a resume. It is important because service-learning is not just education and is not just work, but a mixture of them both. When updating your resume, it is important to include your service experience(S). Service-learning is a unique experience that not all colleges offer and can add a competitive edge when applying for graduate school or a career opportunity. Service-learning can be listed as ‘Campus & Community Involvement,’ ‘Volunteer Experience,’ or ‘Professional Experience’ on your resume.
Please contact College of Coastal Georgia’s Center for Academic Advising and Career Services for more ideas on how your service-learning experience can help you on a resume, during a job search, or when applying for graduate school.
How can I become more involved with service-learning or civic engagement activities on campus?
There are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved at CCGA! The Center for Service-Learning offers on-campus job opportunities where students can assist staff in our office, and faculty members teaching service-learning courses. The Center for Service-Learning and Office of Student Life staff oversee a student-centered Civic Engagement Advisory Board. Students on the Civic Board help to plan and provide feedback on service-centered events on and off campus. Those interested in becoming involved with the Civic Engagement Advisory Board should apply annually in fall semester. For volunteer and other community service activities, keep up with the Office of Student Life on Facebook by liking ‘CCGA Serves.’
Should I teach a service-learning course?
Both traditional classroom instruction and service-learning instruction have benefits for both the student and professor. Through service-learning students can be exposed to different skills, as well as hands-on learning through everyday experiences. The practical proficiencies students gain from service-learning projects helps them make real-world connections to course content. Working with community partners to impact community needs is often a rewarding experience for professors and helps students develop “soft skills” such as professional communication or working in collaboration with others. If you are unsure, make an appointment with a Center for Service-Learning staff member to discuss further.
How do I offer a high quality, integrated service-learning experience for my students?
To start, faculty members should ensure that the service experience for students is not seen as an “add on” requirement for the course. Be sure the service is integrated into the course and classroom discussions early and often through reflection activities. Reflection activities before, during, and after the service experience will help students see the value in the services provided, and can lead to better understanding of course content.
How can I get started initiating service-learning projects in my courses?
To get started teaching service-learning courses, apply to take part in the Service-Learning Scholar’s Workshop. The training workshop is available each spring semester, and will give faculty members all of the tools and knowledge to initiate a service-learning course at the College.
What is reflection, and why is it so important in the service-learning pedagogy?
Reflection is ANY activity that allows for writing or discussion that links what students are learning in their service experience to the learning goals and objectives of the course and course assignments. Reflection is an important part of service-learning teaching because reflection is meant to help students form explicit connections between the classroom and service experiences. Without reflection, students may not see relevance of the service portion of the class to the academic content. Be sure to provide reflection prompts that help students make service/course connections and think critically about the service experience.
What are the incentives to teach service-learning courses?
Once a faculty member completes the Service-Learning Scholar’s Workshop, that professor is eligible for incentives related to teaching service-learning courses. Faculty members can receive up to $1500 as professional development funds, as a series of stipends, or as a course release for infusing service-learning into their courses. Faculty are eligible to receive this funding in $500 increments for teaching their first, third, and fifth service-learning courses. Service-learning faculty members are also eligible to receive Service-Learning Course Mini-Grants, Excellence in Service-Learning Outstanding Faculty Member Awards, funding to attend service-learning conferences, or participate in the Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program.
What is the QEP and how is it related to Service-Learning?
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a forward thinking plan that the College has developed to explain how it's going to improve and enhance the quality of learning available to all of its students. After careful consideration of various ideas, a campus leadership team met in late 2009 and chose the QEP theme: "Learning through Engagement: Service-Learning." This means that service-learning is a key feature of students' learning experience at the College of Coastal Georgia and will help them develop the skills, capacities, and knowledge to be successful in a 21st century work and living environment.
Will service-learning be appropriate for my introductory/entry-level course? How?
Of Course! Any student no matter their classification can benefit from a service-learning course. Service-learning enhances student’s connection of the course content to the real world and works for a myriad of courses across disciplines. Be sure to cater your project(s) in these introductory courses to the students’ skillsets. While upper level students will have expertise in one or several content areas, students in introductory courses may need shorter or condensed service-learning projects that do not require specialized expertise. While there is a 15-hour suggested service minimum,1000-2000 level courses may warrant less of a time commitment time for students or can be based on service project completion rather than focusing on a lengthy time commitment.
Is service-learning a viable option for larger courses?
In larger courses, faculty members should split students into manageable groups to work with community partners. Try to keep the number of community partners lower to ease logistical and communication issues. Be sure to align projects enough so broad discussions can be engaging to the whole class, not just one or two groups. For larger courses, the Center for Service-Learning will provide greater amounts of assistance, including the support of Service-Learning Student Assistants (SLSA). Please contact our office if you would like assistance from one of our SLSAs.
Should I require service-learning in my courses, or make service-learning activities optional?
In many cases, it is easiest to require students to participate in the service-learning project within a service-learning course. The best service-learning activities are woven into the curriculum in such a way that will be harder for students who do not participate in the service-learning project. If the majority of the service-learning project requires direct service, it is always a good idea to provide students with a way to serve the project or organization in an indirect way. Indirect service can be done form home or even within the classroom. This option allows students with transportation or time commitment issues to still participate in and contribute to the project in a meaningful way. With all of that said, the Center for Service-Learning is always open to exploring new and creative ways to infuse service-learning into the curriculum. Contact us if you have unique ideas!
Will my students be able to juggle time for service-learning on top of school, work, and other activities?
College life can be very busy for a student as we are well aware.. It is suggested that service-learning students perform a minimum of 15 hours per course. This means that the student will need to serve as little 1.5 hours a week during a typical semester. This gives the students plenty of time to manage other obligations they may have.Finally, a nice thing about our service-learning program is the flexible options, and various ways for service-learning students to reach their 15 hour minimum, including indirect service activities that do not require students to physically be on site.
How many hours will my students need to spend serving the community during the semester? Why?
College of Coastal Georgia suggests a minimum of 15 hours of service per semester for every service-learning course, no matter how many credit hours the course may be. By asking the students to commit to 15 hours a semester, we are ensuring the benefits the student will receive and ensuring the community partner’s expectations from student service-learners are met.
How do I designate my service-learning course?
Service-learning courses are labeled as having a service-learning component by adding an “S” to the end of the section number. You or your department coordinator should add the S designation to the course as early as possible to ensure students understand the expectations of the course they are registering for.
How do I grade my students on their service-learning activities? Their experiences will all be so different!
Academic credit is awarded for the learning gained from the experience, not for the service itself. The purpose of a service-learning course is for students to use the theories and concepts they learn in the course and be able to connect them with community issues or real-world applications. Reflection is a critical part of service-learning and is a good strategy used to assess student learning. Some faculty members have their student’s journal every semester and grade the journal based on the learning expressed within. You may choose to have your students write a reflection essay or present their learning at the end of the course through a poster or PowerPoint presentation that can also be used to grade. The center for Service-Learning has a rubric that helps guide faculty in measurement of Service-Learning Outcomes (SLOs) in the areas of academic enhancement, civic learning, and personal growth. This rubric can be found in the Forms and Documents section of the service-learning webpage. The Center for Service-Learning can assist you with additional reflection and assessment ideas.
What can I do to make the service-learning experience smoother for my students?
Make sure that communication is well established between all stake-holder groups (faculty, students, and community partners) in order to ensure a smooth service-learning course. The Center for Service-Learning is here to help too! Some of our support functions include ensuring proper channels of communication are open, community partners understand the basic principles of service-learning, and connecting students with resources they need.
What challenges should I expect within my service-learning course?
Teaching service-learning courses requires a lot of flexibility. Crafting quality academic service experiences for students can seem difficult at times, but clear communication and the ability to be flexible will help tremendously! Students often express concern if they experience communication delays from the community partner, have trouble finding available service hours, lack clarity on their role within an organization, or are dissatisfied with the service being asked of them. You and the community partner should work together to quickly respond to student feedback. Semesters tend to pass quickly, and situations should be handled as quickly as possible. Challenges can also arise if the professor is not in consistent contact with the community partner. Touching base every one or two weeks will help the professor and community partner control any issues before they get too great.
How can I find service-learning community partners?
Faculty members can identify community partners in multiple ways: 1) Browse the list of 100+ community partners on this webpage; 2) Ask the Center for Service-Learning staff which community partner(s) will work best for your intended project; 3) Contact potential community partner agencies directly; or 4) Allow the students to research potential community partners within the parameters of the course/project. No matter which route you take, be sure to establish a strong rapport with your community partner organization.
What kinds of support can the Center for Service-Learning offer?
The Center for Service-Learning is a support office for all of our faculty members developing or continuing a service-learning course. The Center offers assistance in providing faculty training, incentives, and overall support of service-learning activities. The Center funds the Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program and the Service-Learning Student Assistant program that allow veteran S-L faculty and our trained Student Assistants to provide extra support to faculty. We can help with everything from brainstorming unique ways to infuse S-L into the classroom experience to identifying community partners. If it involves service-learning, we can help!
Can I use my service-learning teaching in my tenure and promotion packet?
Your service-learning commitment is unique in that it can be discussed in the three major content areas of teaching, service, and in some instances research.
What is a Service-Learning Course Mini-Grant and how do I apply?
Service-Learning Course Mini-Grants are available to fund the development of new service-learning courses or initiatives, for the improvement of existing ones, and/or for the implementation of community-based research projects. Grants, typically ranging from $250 to $500, will be awarded to faculty on a competitive basis according to the selection criteria. Larger mini-grants are assessed on case-by-case basis and the maximum is $1000. Faculty teaching service-learning course are eligible to apply for funding each semester they will be teaching a service-learning course. Service-Learning Course Mini-Grant Proposals should be submitted by February 28th for spring semester or September 30th for fall semester.
How can I become a Service-Learning Faculty Fellow?
Faculty members who teach at least three service-learning courses at CCGA are eligible to apply for the Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship program. An application is released each year toward the end of spring semester. Fellows will be selected to serve the following academic year fall through spring.
What is service-learning and why would I want to become a service-learning community partner?
Service-learning at the College of Coastal Georgia encourages students to utilize their skill, expertise, and academic knowledge to meet community needs in meaningful ways. Community organizations play a big role in not only facilitating service work that meets community needs, but also in being a co-educator of students. Being involved with service-learning can have many benefits to community partners including access to college student and faculty expertise, and providing service to complete projects a community agency may have place on the back burner.
Are service-learning students different than other volunteers?
Service-learning students are different than traditional volunteers because service-learning students are enrolled in a semester-long course in which it is expected that they will serve the community while working toward educational goals. Unlike volunteerism, service-learning courses incorporate service as part of the academic experience for the student. The reason for student service in these courses is two-fold: 1) to enhance the academic learning and experience for the student and 2) to meet needs of the community in creative ways. While helping the community is an important part of student development, students are engaging in meaningful service in order to enhance learning. The community partner is a vital part of the learning process. Partners can contribute to student learning both at the service site and, on occasion, within the classroom.
How do I become a service-learning partner? How can I resurrect an old partnership?
The Center for Service-Learning has partnered with over one hundred organizations within the five-county radius surrounding CCGA. Most likely we have partnered with your organization in the past. We are always looking to expand our footprint though establishing new and exciting partnerships! Contact us directly if you would like to become a partner or rekindle a partnership. We also accept service-learning project proposals via e-mail. Be sure to include the general description, length of project, how many students needed, specific course/discipline needed, service goals, and potential for academic learning, and how soon the project will need to be implemented.
How can my organization best contribute to students’ learning process?
As co-educators, you and your staff have something unique to add to a student’s coursework. You are the experts on your organization and, as such, offer a unique "real world" perspective. Be sure to establish the service AND learning goals with the professor prior to service-learners arriving to your site. Think broadly and creatively about how you might help students think more deeply about the issues they are engaging with at your site and within the classroom. It could be as easy as walking down the hall with a student asking them what they achieved today or what connections they made to their classroom learning. You may also want to discuss with the faculty member how you can complement what’s happening in the classroom.
How many hours of service-learning work do the students have to complete during the semester and are we at the agency responsible for keeping track of the hours?
It is recommended to faculty members that each student complete are 15 hours of service per service-learning course. Faculty members should work with the partner directly to negotiate student time commitments or project completion goals. Students are in charge of keeping up with their own time sheets. You may be asked to sign their time sheet if students are providing direct service on site at your organization. The faculty member teaching the course will sign off on student time sheets if they are involved with indirect service (away from the service site).
Once a partnership is arranged, when can I expect students to start?
Service-learning partnerships typically begin at the start of an academic semester (Spring – January/February, Summer – June, and Fall – August/September). When students start their service will depend upon the service-learning project and what is decided upon between the faculty member and the community partner. Generally, an organization will begin to receive students within the first 3 to 4 weeks of the semester. Each student typically completes approximately 15 hours of service over the course of the semester.
How many students will work with us for the semester?
The number of students serving at your organization should be decided in a negotiation between you and the faculty member teaching the service-learning course. It is also dependent on your organization’s capacity to host student service-learners. Some community partners may have a whole class, five or six students, or just one or two. The number will vary based on course goals, project requirements, and student interests. You should not take more students that you feel comfortable supervising and providing quality learning experiences and opportunities for.
When will we find out if our agency will have service-learning students?
Either a staff member from the Center for Service-Learning or the professor of a service-learning class will contact you via the telephone or e-mail. Typically you will be invited to the Center for Service-Learning for an introductory and exploratory meeting between the service-learning staff, College faculty, and a representative from your organization. The purpose of this is to introduce you and/or your organization’s staff members to service-learning and for the Center for Service-Learning and faculty member to discover the wants and needs of your organization. Then, faculty will express interest either to the Center staff or contact your organization directly. From that point, it is up to faculty and community partner to work out details. Center of Service-Learning staff members are always happy to answer any questions and offer any support necessary.
What if students contact me directly for a service-learning project?
Some faculty members, especially in upper level courses, want their students to take initiative to establish their own service-learning projects (within the scope of the course goals/objectives of course!). In such cases, you should talk to the students, but plan to have a follow up meeting with the student’s faculty member (either in person or via telephone) to negotiate the learning and service goals of the student work.
What if students don't show up, stop coming, or don't complete their hours?
A Faculty/Agency Agreement Form has been created to help assure mutual accountability between faculty members, students and their site-based supervisor. If a student is expected to be serving but stops coming after a few times, the first thing to do is to contact the student directly. In most cases, the situation can be resolved at this step. If you are unsuccessful at reaching the student, please contact the faculty member teaching the course. Always feel free to contact the center for Service-Learning at any step along the way. We are here to help you work most effectively and successfully with faculty and students.
Who do I contact if a problem arises with a student?
Each professor should devise a plan for dealing with any problems during the service-learning experience. We recommend that students first consult their site supervisor with any service-learning project or service site problems. Immediately following discussion with the student and site supervisor, students and community partners are encouraged to notify their faculty member/partner. As a site supervisor, be sure to document (in writing) any problems you have. Call the professor or the Center for Service-Learning if the problem persists.
What happens at the end of the semester?
Community partners are encouraged to provide feedback on their service-learning experiences with both the collaborating faculty member and the Center for Service-Learning on an on-going basis. At the end of the academic year, community partners will be asked to complete an online evaluation of the service partnership. Information from this survey will be used for program planning and quality improvement.
Will students stay beyond one semester?
Service-learning happens as part of a course with a specific group of students so projects tend to 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. In addition, students who may have particularly enjoyed the service experience at your site may wish to continue on with additional service as a volunteer in the future.
How can an agency recognize an exceptional service-learning student or faculty member?
Agency representatives can recognize exceptional students through positive feedback on the student evaluations, personal contacts, thank-you notes, and even a letter of recommendation to the Center for Service-Learning for Excellence in Service-Learning Awards and scholarships. E-mail the Center if you would like to recognize an outstanding service-learning student or faculty member. Agency representatives can also talk to their cooperating professor if they are interested in recognizing individual students.