Service-Learning Tips & FAQs

What is service-learning?

Service-learning is a method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully-organized service that is conducted in a community to meet unmet community needs, and coordinated with an institution of higher education in order to foster civic responsibility and enhance academic curriculum (AAHE: Service-Learning in the Disciplines).

Service-learning at CSUF is guided by UPS 411.600 Policy on Service-LearningPDF File Opens in new window , which states that such courses must specify SL in the syllabus and grant credit for activities; integrate community and classroom learning; meet community needs; provide structured opportunities for reflection; account for no more than one-third of the coursework and grade; match a student's academic preparation; occur only at approved sites; and involve no more than 40 hours of service per 3-unit course.

How do I begin?

See suggested timelinePDF File Opens in new window . Request a consultationOpens in new window with CICE staff. (Please allow two business days for response.)

Once you have reviewed the suggested timeline, review Service-Learning Course Design WorkbookPDF File Opens in new window (Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Summer 2001); hard copies are available in the CICE office. Fundamentals of Service-Learning Course Construction by Kerrissa Heffernan, Ed.D. also is an excellent resource; copies are available for faculty check-out in CICE. Also see Engaged Faculty InstitutePDF File curriculum developed by California Campus Compact and Campus Compact of the Mountain West in collaboration with Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

Contact CICE Director Dawn Macy to schedule a consultation, access to other resources, and a review of the online CICE registration database for academically-related off-campus activities.

Frequently asked questions

How can I find suitable service-learning sites for my students?

  • Contact CICE Director Dawn Macy for suggestions and guidance.
  • Search for approved sites in the Titan Connection database. (See Faculty Titan Connection instructionsPDF File Opens in new window for accessing Titan Connection.)
  • Identify your own sites to work with. To work with your own list of sites, please contact CICE Director Dawn Macy, who will go over the procedures to have the sites register in the online CICE registration database and complete the risk management process. See the Partner Registration instructionsPDF File Opens in new window .

Why do students need to register with CICE when doing an academic internship or service-learning course?

  • To ensure the quality of the student's experience. Registration ensures due diligence has been performed to determine: the legitimacy of the business where service will take place; CICE staff review of the substance of work outlined in job descriptions; required learning experience, supervision, etc. is outlined in learning agreement.
  • Completing CICE's systems ensures compliance with all CSU and CSUF risk management requirements for academically-related off-campus activities. In order for students to be covered while at their placement sites, they must complete the online CICE registration process, completing all steps until they come to the page that reads, "You have successfully completed your registration." CICE student registration linkOpens in new window

Why can't my student find his/her site in the CICE registration system?

If a site is not registered, registered incorrectly, does not have a current posting in Titan Connection, or has not completed all steps in the registration process (i.e., Workplace Safety Questionnaire), this may result in the site not being available for selection by students using the online CICE registration database. CICE staff can diagnose the situation and work on resolution; contact CICE for assistance.

How do I know if my student has completed all risk management requirements and where the student is doing service?

The CICE Faculty InterfaceOpens in new window database lists for each student who has begun the online CICE registration process: the student's site, site contacts, and the status of each of the three required steps in the registration process. See CICE Faculty Interface InstructionsPDF File Opens in new window .

My student is having problems...?

Refer students directly to CICE.

What CSUF partner sites offer suitable opportunities for my students?

  • Academic Internship sites with current postingsOpens in new window
  • Service-learning position descriptions in Titan Connection: search Titan Connection using advanced search options to specify "service-learning" as the position type (see Step-by-step instructionsPDF File Opens in new window for accessing Titan Connection.) Faculty are encouraged to meet with CICE Director Dawn Macy to discuss suitable service-learning sites.

I have a list of sites where I want my students to serve. How do I facilitate this?

Faculty should meet with, and/or forward the list of sites to, CICE Director Dawn Macy to discuss sites. CICE will handle contacting and registering additional sites.

How do I keep track of my students' service-learning hours?

Faculty may use their discretion in determining methods of tracking hours. CICE suggests that faculty require students to submit a timesheet with site supervisor's signature at one or more points during the semester. See the sample Service-Learning TimesheetPDF File Opens in new window .

How do I incorporate reflection into my class?

Faculty use a variety of methods including but not limited to: journals, in-class discussions, online discussions, projects, papers, quizzes, artwork, presentations, etc. A Practitioner's Guide to Reflection in Service-Learning: Student Voices and Reflections (Eyler, Giles and Schmiede) is just one example of resources available for checkout from CICE.

Does CICE provide an overview of the registration process for my students?

Faculty may schedule classroom presentations by CICE staff on any aspect of the process, and/or an overview of service-learning. Please contact Robert Pierce a minimum of 2 weeks in advance of the class date.

What do I do once students start at their sites?

Tracking Hours: We recommend having students track their own hours as they complete their experience. Ask for supervisor verification of hours on a monthly basis, or at the end of the semester. See the sample Service-Learning TimesheetPDF File Opens in new window .

On-Site Problems

A learning plan is a helpful tool in cases when students are not receiving the expected experience and/or supervision from the site. The student and supervisor should outline the learning experience with 3 to 4 learning goals for the student. Both should sign the plan. [A sample learning plan can be found at end of this paragraph.] The student can then refer back to the document to keep his/her supervisor accountable. Notify CICE Director Dawn Macy if students report an uncooperative site. Sample learning planPDF File Opens in new window

My section number is missing from the online CICE registration database. How do I get this updated?

All class information in the online CICE registration database is pulled from the admissions database. If class information changes or a class is not listed, updates must be made in both the admissions database and manually in the online CICE registration database. Please contact Robert Pierce.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Student works full-time or does not have reliable transportation to site.

Offer an alternate assignment the student can complete in lieu of the service-learning project. Consider an on-campus site or one within walking distance of campus or home.

Student waits until the last minute to find a site.

The syllabus should identify a deadline for students to complete the online CICE registration process. The reflection component should be defined in the syllabus so that students must secure a placement site in order to complete the reflection assignments. A presentation by CICE at the beginning of the semester will explain why students should find a site as soon as possible and schedule their service hours throughout the semester.

Site is not getting back to the student.

Refer students to Robert Pierce, who will attempt contact with the site. Suggest that students contact multiple sites in the beginning instead of applying to one at a time.

Site is not willing to sign the learning agreement.

Refer the site supervisor to Robert Pierce, who will explain the agreement and attempt modifications to meet the needs of all parties.

Students have a hard time identifying a site.

CICE can work with faculty members to develop a list of sites that are pre-approved for the course. CICE staff can coach students in using Titan Connection's advanced search functions. In case of last-minute placements or special requests, CICE has a list of preferred partners.

Site is not satisfied with student performance.

It is helpful to have a paper or online feedback form that site supervisors can use to evaluate students during the semester (paper forms should be returned in a sealed envelope). Encourage responses by awarding class points for completed evaluations. CICE can assist in designing and collecting surveys. See sample surveyPDF File Opens in new window . Refer site supervisors to CICE to discuss the future of the partnership and resolution of problems.

Timeframe for developing a service-learning course

Faculty are encouraged to work within a 6- to 12-month timeframe for developing a service-learning course so that CICE can provide excellent service and guidance. See the sample timeframePDF File Opens in new window for suggested steps.