Service-Learning FAQs
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Service-Learning FAQs


Q: What is service learning?
A: Service learning combines community service, academic instruction, and structured reflection. Students who do service learning can develop a better understanding of course content, meet genuine community needs, develop career-related skills, and become responsible citizens.

Q: How does service learning differ from community service or volunteerism?
A: Service learning is always connected to academic coursework, while community service is not. For example, if a group of friends do a river cleanup, it would be classified as community service. If an environmental science class studied water pollution, then did a river cleanup as part of their coursework, it would be service learning.

Q: Where can I volunteer?
A:  You can find a list of our community partners here. You can click on the name of any group for more information, including contact information, hours of operation, and possible volunteer activities. We work with a wide variety of organizations across Western North Carolina. These groups focus on many topics, such as children, youth, & education, the elderly, poverty-related issues, the environment, animals, arts & culture, and medical care. If you need help connecting with a group or setting up a volunteer project, please contact us.

Q: How can I find out about upcoming service opportunities?
A: You can learn about upcoming service projects by looking at our website or our Facebook page, by visiting our office, or by subscribing to our weekly email updates. To find us on Facebook, search for "WCU Center for Service Learning". If you would like to receive email updates, please email us at servicelearning@wcu.edu.

Q: What if I don't have a vehicle?
A: If you would like to do community service, but you don't have a vehicle, you have several options. Students can carpool with their friends, take advantage of service sites close to campus, paticipate in service opportunities where transportation is provided, or use Jackson County Transit. Service sites on or within 1 mile of campus include the Ramsey Center, the Mountain Heritage Center, NCCAT, CuRvE, the Cullowhee Valley School, and Full Spectrum Farms. The Center for Service Learning organizes Days of Service several times a year, and provides transportation for volunteers who need it. With 24-hour notice, Jackson County Transit will transport students to local locations for $3 each way.

Q: Where can I find paperwork for participating in service learning?
A: You can find forms here. Before you begin volunteering, you should complete a "Conduct & Waiver of Liability" form, which is attached to the "Application for Service Learning (for Course-Related Service)". You can also print out a time sheet, to track the service hours that you have completed.

Q: I have to do community service because I was written up by the campus police or my RA. What should I do now?
A: First, you will need to visit the Department of Student Community Ethics in Scott Hall. They will tell you how many hours you must complete, and the deadline to complete your hours. Then, you should bring your paperwork to the Center for Service Learning. We will help you find a site where you can complete your hours. Once you've finished, return the paperwork to the Center for Service Learning.

Q: I would like to include service-learning in a course but I’m not sure where to start. What resources are available to help me?
A: The Center for Service Learning has resources for planning, implementing, monitoring, and assessing/evaluating service learning projects. Our staff are happy to consult with faculty members, and our faculty fellows offer support for faculty in several colleges. We maintain a library of syllabi, publications, and other resources in our office. You can also find syllabi for a variety of disciplines through the web sites of National Campus Compact, North Carolina Campus Compact, and Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.

Q: Is there a special designation for service-learning courses in the catalog?
A: Yes. The Faculty Senate unanimously approved the "SLC" ("Service-Learning Component") designation in 2007. If a course meets certain criteria, "SLC" will be added to the course's catalog description and to students’ transcripts. However, please note that a course does not need to have the "SLC" label to be considered a service-learning course.

Q: What professional development opportunities in service learning are available to faculty?
A: The Center for Service Learning coordinates a Faculty Fellows Program that makes such opportunities available. Fellows attend monthly faculty development sessions and they, in turn, coordinate and facilitate workshops/seminars for their colleagues. Furthermore, the Center hosts an annual  Symposium on Service Learning & Civic Engagement on the second Thursday of June. In addition, Campus Compact – a national coalition of college and university leaders dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement, and service learning in higher education – provides various professional development opportunities for faculty and administrators throughout the year. North Carolina Campus Compact organizes an annual service-learning conference called PACE (Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement) primarily for faculty involved in service learning and civic engagement. The Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is held in March and the International Research Conference on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is held in March and the International Research Conference on Service-Learning and Community Engagement in October.

Q: Are there opportunities to publish in the field of service learning?
A: The Center for Service Learning maintains a list of journals and other publications that focus on engaged scholarship. The premier service-learning journals are the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, and the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. You can find a list of service-learning publications by WCU faculty and staff here.

Q: Will using service learning as a teaching strategy count in the promotion and tenure process?
A: Yes. WCU’s tenure, promotion, and retention guidelines now reward the range of scholarly activities proposed by Ernest Boyer (1990). Effective service-learning pedagogy can be demonstrated through the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and faculty engagement with the community through the scholarship of application.

If you have other questions, please email us at servicelearning@email.wcu.edu or call (828) 227-7184.

 

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