What are the benefits of service learning?

  • Engages Active Learning - The best way to learn is through active participation.
  • Wider Career Options -- Explore the career possibilities of public service and non-profit institutions.
  • Personal Growth and Development - One of the best ways to help yourself is to help someone else.  Through service, you will gain skills and experience that will help you for the rest of your life, both in work and in society. 
  • Meet Community Needs - Do you think we can rely on government to solve all out problems?  Each one of us must do our part to help make our community better for ourselves and others. 
  • Develops Civic Responsibility - Our country was founded on an ethic of service.  The health of our democracy depends on service and community involvement.  Working toward the common good is something we must all practice.  
  • Enhances Self Image -- Service allows you to make a difference through active and meaningful contribution to your communities
  • Broadens Perspective -- Your critical thinking skills get stronger when you are challenged to examine, question and refine or change your perceptions, assumptions and beliefs with regard to the world in which we live. This leads to a more valuable, successful life.
  • Reflect on Your Life Goals -- Demonstrates to students that learning and civic engagement are life-changing, life-long activities.
  • Expands Your Resume -- Community projects are excellent experiences to expand your resume, and show prospective employers or graduate schools the breadth of your background.
  • Increased Resources - Develop new networks, connections, friends and mentors in places you never knew you would.

As a student, what would be expected of me?

You will be expected to perform service in a community agency as part of normal coursework. The project is not "community service" as you might usually think of it. The service learning project is the experiential basis of what is to be learned in the course. The project is not "extra work" but a major field assignment in the course. You will be expected to serve, but remember that your service will NOT be evaluated according to your altruism or your feelings for the people being served. Rather, you will be graded according to what you have learned from the experience, as measured by written work, discussion, and your adherence to standards of responsible behavior as a service learner (i.e., showing up at your scheduled time of service, etc).

How does service learning compare with internships, off-campus work-study or voluntary activities?

The primary goal of an internship or work study is to give the student something: an actual experience in an area related to his/her major or career plans, or financial assistance. In addition, an internship is generally a course in itself, graded and credited as a three-hour course and involving some 150 hours of time. In voluntary activities, students give time and energy to doing whatever needs doing at the time. If there is any connection with a student's long range plans, it is coincidental; the activities may be one-time events or ongoing. In any case, the main purpose is to benefit the recipients of such action and the education of the student; students often find intrinsic rewards from the experience, but it is not considered academic nor is it graded. The intent is that both students and service sites benefit from such collaboration.

SL is an integral part of, but not a whole course; it is one of the methods of instruction and--hopefully--of learning, along with classes, readings, and writing. A vital component of SL (as of some internships) is structured reflection--both individual (in journals or portfolios) and collective--on the service experience and on its relation to the rest of the course and to the student's own thinking and life. Service and such reflection are among the components of student grades.

Do all students in a course have to do service or serve at the same site?

All students in a course designated as SL would be expected to do service, just as they would have to do any other required part of the course. However, the sites and the number of sites and times of service will vary according to agency and student schedules and the nature of the course and needs served.

Can students find their own SL sites?

This does not usually work, given the need for the QU instructor to work closely with a community partner in developing the SL component of a course. However, it is a good idea to raise the possibility of creating your own SL project with the faculty member.

Is all SL off campus?

Almost always. All SL is undertaken in connection with the needs of off-campus community or neighborhood organizations or agencies, and requires students to become familiar with them and the people involved. However occasionally some of the needs may best be served by students doing some of the work on campus, using college facilities (e.g., the development of marketing plans, or laboratories or mass communication production facilities).

How do students get to off-campus sites?

We do not have college vehicles available to help with transportation. Some sites will be relatively easy to reach by bus; for the rest it will be advisable to work out car-pooling very early in the semester. Bus schedules are available at Career Services. The problem of transportation is one felt even more acutely by many of the people with whom students may be working, especially the elderly and working people who have no cars. Working on this issue thus offers an opportunity to begin the service learning even before beginning the service.