- How much extra work and time are necessary to implement service learning in my course?
It will require additional time to implement service learning because you will need to meet with community partners, maintain records of student hours, and take care of unanticipated events. However, much of this work can be alleviated by partnering with the Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity. Our staff is able to locate appropriate community partners, set up partnership meetings and provide course-development resources. If you are incorporating service learning into your curriculum for the first time, you will find the experience can be “messy,” requiring some flexibility and adaptability on behalf of the instructor, students, and community partner.
- UNLV students are extremely busy. Do they even have time to do service learning?
We understand that students have many commitments outside of their UNLV courses. The Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity makes every effort to ensure that service experiences are offered at various locations around the Las Vegas Valley and at different times throughout the week in order to fit busy students’ schedules. We encourage any faculty member who is implementing service learning to adjust other assignment workloads to balance the time that students will spend at the community organization.
- Isn’t required community service counterproductive?
It is extremely important that you present a service-learning experience to your students in a way that conveys the importance of the learning activity and how the experience relates to your course objectives. When students are able to see the connection between the service and the course objectives, they are more likely to be engaged in the activity. Academic credit is not awarded for doing service or for the quality of the service but rather for the student’s demonstration of academic and civic learning.
- How can I keep track of my students’ volunteer hours?
The Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity has an online service-learning management platform.
- How can I locate an appropriate community partner?
Contact the Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity. Our staff is able to locate a community organization that is willing to partner with you in order to help your students meet course objectives.
- What commitment does UNLV administration have to service learning?
UNLV administration is very committed to the inclusion of service learning and has designated service learning as a high-impact teaching practice. Civic engagement is one of the newly approved undergraduate learning outcomes. Service learning is also encouraged within major areas of study.
- What risks are involved?
With any assigned out-of-classroom experience, the university is exposed to liability issues. As the person who is assigning students to work in the community, it is important that you are proactive in risk management.
- How are students evaluated in service learning projects?
There are many different ways in which students can be evaluated in service-learning projects. You must decide what you want to evaluate in the service process. Some instructors simply monitor the service time and work. It is recommended instructors include a reflective assignment or incorporate the service experience into a course assignment. It is most important that you evaluate how the service project has facilitated the learning of the course objectives.
Service learning is influenced by John Dewey’s theory of the primacy of experience: "Service learning is interactive and democratic, engaging the whole student and transforming the learning process." Service learning has been linked to many positive outcome measures, increased student retention, and raised academic performance. In this pedagogy, the experience provides a “real-world” learning activity that engages and empowers student learners.