Marshall Unversity's Center for Teaching & Learning: Service Learning Program
Service Learning Program
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the difference between service learning and volunteerism or internships?

A: Service learning is an academic form of civic engagement that is guided by a specific curriculum. The service is structured and consistent for the duration of the course and reflected on regularly. The relationship between the community organization and the faculty is a mutually beneficial partnership for the students and the organization. Both the students and the organization are gaining valuable recourses.

Volunteerism emphasizes the services provided to the organization. The benefits for the organization outweigh those of the students. In addition, the service is not structured around a curriculum and is usually inconsistent. Reflection does not occur regularly.

Internships emphasize the knowledge the student has already gained. The benefits for the students outweigh those of the organization. Although the work is usually based on a previously learned skill, the work is not structured around a current curriculum and requires significant time practicing the skill. Reflection does not occur regularly.

Q: How can I teach a service learning course?

A: It is required that all faculty who would like to teach a service learning course attend the Advanced Service Learning Course Construction Workshop (offered every fall and spring semester) You may also contact the MUSLP office to arrange a consultation. You will be able to meet with a MUSLP representative to discuss your course objectives, possible service learning opportunities and partners, and gather resources to guide your service learning course construction process.

Q: I am new to service learning. Will I be prepared to take the Advanded Service Learning Course Construction Workshop?

A: Yes! The MUSLP offers faculty resources and training throughout their course development. New faculty are encouraged to explore our website for more information or contact the MUSLP to arrange a consultation with a MUSLP representative. The Advanced Service Learning Course Construction Workshop is a 3-4 hour workshop that explores service learning pedagogy, course curriculum development as well as information on reflection practices. The workshop also provides a forum for discussion about SL and examples of service learning syllabi and service projects.

Q: Is there financial assistance availble for faculty teaching a service learning course?

A: The MUSLP shares information about grant, and training opportunities with associated faculty and students. Continue to check out our website for upcoming opportunities or join our list-serve to receive information by mail.

Q: I am alerady involved with a community organization. Can I utilize the organization as a community partner for my service learning course?

A: The partnership must be approved by the MUSLP. It is possible to utilize an existing relationship with an organization if the needs of that organization relate to the course material. Service learning partnerships are developed by first assessing the needs of the organization. The needs are then compared to existing curriculums and partnered with appropriate courses.

Q: How will students know it is a service learning course?

A: All service learning courses are indicated by an “SL” designation. This allows students to identify the courses with a service-learning component. In addition, the MUSLP lists new and archived service learning courses on our website.

Q: Will my students be prepared for the service learning experience?

A: Faculty play an important role in preparing the students for the service learning experience. It is required that each course includes at least 1 reading about or pertaining to service learning. The MUSLP GA is also available to discuss service learning with your class and to answer any questions your students may have.

Q: How will I locate appropriate community partners for my course?

A: The MUSLP can assist faculty in contacting possible community partners. A consultation with a MUSLP representative is beneficial for this process. In addition, the MUSLP invites many of the organizations to participate in campus events and service learning discussions. These are excellent places to meet and speak with organizations that are familiar with the MUSLP.

Q: I would like to teach a service learning course but I am concerned about the extra work load. Does the MUSLP offer assistance for meeting deadlines?

A: Absolutely! The MUSLP was developed to support faculty in their course development process and the Advanced Service Learning Course Construction Workshop defines specific tools and techniques to guide faculty before during and after the process. By combining the resources and support from the MUSLP with your motivation to incorporate a service learning component into the course, you can significantly reduce any additional work associated with developing a service learning curriculum.