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Faculty Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Service Learning

  • What is Service Learning?
    Service Learning is a high impact pedagogical practice that creates opportunities for experiential learning for students by integrating community service with academic course work. Students meet real community needs while receiving "real life" experiences related to their course content. Service Learning activities inform, clarify, illustrate and stimulate thoughts about classroom topics, as well as encourage students to develop or strengthen a habit of service and social responsibility to the community.
  • What makes a course a Service Learning course?

    The Service Learning (APC 245-02) university policy considers a course to be a service learning if the community service component relates to the academic learning objectives. It should be integrated with the academic content through reflection, and accounts for no less than 15% of the course grade. 

  • Can courses in any discipline incorporate service learning?
    Yes. Service Learning can be integrated into courses in all disciplines. There are service learning courses across all colleges on campus. 
  • Can service learning be optional in a course?
    Yes. Faculty has the option to list their course as a service learning with the following categories: (1) the service learning component is required (meaning all students taking the course must complete service learning), (2) the service learning component is optional (meaning students can choose to do service learning instead of another alternative class activity and/or assignment), and (3) the service learning component is extra credit (meaning students complete service learning to receive extra credit in the course)   
  • Does observation or data collection count as service learning?

    It depends. Students must be active participants of the authentic activities that take place at their service learning site. It is not consider service learning, if students are just observing at their service learning site (taking the role of an "observer"). It is not consider service learning, if students are at their service learning site just to do data collection as part of a research project (taking the role of a "researcher"). 

    If students are active participants at their service learning site, and as part of their activities you as the faculty have an assignment for them to collect data and/or document their activities then students can engage in data collection alongside with their regular activities at their service learning site.   

  • What is the difference between Service Learning and Volunteerism?
    While volunteerism is geared toward the advantage of the community, service learning also requires that the student reflect on and learn from the service being performed. Thus, the student as well as the community receives the "benefits" of the activity.
  • What is the difference between Service Learning and Internships?

    Service learning experiences are related to course content. Prepares students to better understand course content through experiential learning. Promotes civic responsibility, and is organized to meet the needs of the community. 

    Internships are paid professional experiences related to student's career interests. Prepares students for post graduate pursuits. Experiences are not exclusively related to meeting the needs of the community. 

Questions about Setting Up Your Course as Service Learning

Questions about Service Learning(S4)Database 

  • How do my students search for community partners in the database?

    If you preselected sites, those sites will appear for the students when they log into the database. If you haven't preselected sites for your course, then students will see an option to search for "sites" and "opportunities" in the database. Students should start with For Students page for instructions.  

  • My students cannot find the button to place themselves with the program site?
    If your students cannot see a button to place themselves with the sites, that means the site does not have an "opportunity" listed. Students see the placement button only if the site has an opportunity listed. Students can manually be placed by the Service Learning Office at the program site level even if there is no opportunity listed. Encourage your students to contact the Service Learning Office.  
  • How do I monitor students' placements?

    Once students place themselves with a site (community partner) in the S4 database, you should be able to see it under your course roaster in the database. When you click on the students' name, you will be able to review the placement form that they completed. 

    The Service Learning Office does not track or collect timesheets from students. It is the course instructor's responsibility to ask students to use and submit a timesheet to the course instructor as evidence for completing their service learning hours.  

  • When should my students be placed by?
    As soon as the course starts you are expected to start looking for a site (community partner) to complete your service learning hours. For compliance with university policies, Service Learning Office expects students taking a service learning course have found and place themselves with a service learning site by Week 9 of the semester. After Week 9, students who haven't been placed in the S4 database will receive an email from the Service Learning Office.   
  • Can my students onboard a community site?
    Faculty and students can have the site (community partner) fill out and submit a Request to Initiate Partnership Form (link to the form provided in the For Community Partners page). This form must be submitted by Week 6 of a 16-week course and Week 2 of a 8-week course by a site (community partner) for the Service Learning Office to process the request in a timely manner for that semester.     
  • Do I need to do anything with the database once my students are placed in the database?
    No. You and your students do not need to do anything once your students are placed in the database. Database is used for the purposes of risk management, liability, and record keeping of service learning across the CSU system. 
  • Does the database track students' service learning hours?

    No. The Service Learning Office does not track or collect timesheets from students. However, we collect total hours of service learning completed.

    Alternatively, if you want confirmation from site supervisors, you can ask students to complete the Service Learning End of Service Form, which appears in S4 database after they are placed at a site, and have them enter the site supervisor's email. Once students submit the Service Learning End of Service Form, an automated email will be sent to their site supervisor encouraging them to email the course instructor to confirm the student's service learning hours.