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Frequently Asked Questions



"Everyone a learner, everyone a teacher, everyone a leader."*
 

As part of your service-learning project, we want you to have a great experience that enhances your learning. One of the goals in service-learning is to work together with community partners and create long-lasting learning experiences. Below are frequently asked questions regarding service-learning courses that can help you throughout your SL experience.    

                                                                                                                 

Why is service part of this class?

The service-learning component of your class gives you the opportunity to learn by doing. Through service-learning you have the opportunity to enhance your academic learning, promote your personal growth, and enrich your civic responsibility. Like your textbooks, lectures, and discussions, the community is a source of information about the concepts and issues covered in class. Your service-learning work is a way to get hands-on experience through your academic studies!

How many hours per semester will I do class-related service work?

Generally, students in service-learning courses complete 10 hours of service. The required hours are usually spread out throughout the semester, allowing you to complete them at your own pace. Please check with your instructor for the total number of hours required for the course, as the total number of hours varies per course.

How will my instructor grade my service work?

Just like you are not graded for the act of reading, but for your analysis of the text; in service-learning courses, you will be graded in a similar way for your community work. Class assignments may require you to articulate what you've learned volunteering, and how that connects with the subject of the class. Moreover, your service-learning class may also require you to complete a specific number of hours service work. For that you may be graded in the same way you'd be graded for class participation.

For most service-learning classes, you are required to do reflection about your community work. Your reflection will help you connect that volunteer work to your studies and your life. 

Why am I required to serve for a specific number of hours?

The point of service hours is to be sure you have enough time to fulfill the learning objectives related to your volunteer work. This also helps your community organization plan for the time you will be there. Local organizations have limited resources, so it's equally important for them to know that the time and effort they dedicate to hosting service-learning students will benefit their goals too.

How will my instructor know I completed my service hours?

For most service-learning courses, there will be a sign-in sheet at the community organization. Please be sure to sign-in every time you participate in a service-learning event, this will be sent to your instructor to show your attendance.
In addition, you can print out the Service-Learning Attendance Sheet and take it with you every time you volunteer. Turn this form to your instructor before the end of the semester.  

If your class is using the scheduling program VolunteerSpot as proof, please find the specific link for your course on your syllabus or email servicelearning@tamiu.edu if you cannot find it.

Remember: sign-ups on VolunteerSpot close at specific times, check with your instructor for more information.

I have problems with VolunteerSpot, what can I do?

Please contact Ms. Cihtlalli G. Perez at cihtlallig.perez@tamiu.edu, (956) 326-3132, or in Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center 223 for VolunteerSpot information specific to your course.  

What if I just don't have time for service-learning?

Many students juggle classes, part-time or full-time work, family obligations, and other activities. We understand it can be difficult to find time for the volunteer work required for a service-learning class. That's why most service-learning classes require just 2 to 3 hours per week, and instructors decrease your course load (readings and other assignments). Talk to your instructor if you have problems with scheduling, be sure to do this at the beginning of the semester so your instructor can make appropriate accommodations.

What if I feel like I'm being asked to do meaningless busy work?

It's important to realize that your time commitment to an organization is small (2 to 3 hours per week). Most organizations have limited resources, and they will need to balance the time and effort they put into training and supervising you. Nonetheless, one of the key goals of service-learning is to allow students to provide relevant and meaningful service in the community. The Service-Learning Center works with community partners to be sure you have that opportunity.

It's important to know that whatever work you do at a community organization, it may have more impact than you first realize. For example, if you're keeping a child busy while his/her parents are in a parenting class or in a job-skills workshop, you may think you're just babysitting. In reality, you're allowing those parents to improve their family's quality of life, and you're helping the organization provide services to parents who might not be able to take advantage of them otherwise. If you're stuffing envelopes at an organization, those envelopes may carry a fundraising request to hundreds of donors on whom the organization relies to carry out its work. Whatever your position within the organization, we encourage you to learn as much as you can about the organization's work and how your efforts fit into it. Don't be afraid to ask questions that will help you understand your experience and connect it to what you're learning in class.

If you really feel like you're not getting anything meaningful out of your experience with the organization, contact the Service-Learning Center staff. We are here to make this a meaningful experience for you!

What is the Service-Learning Expo?

At the Expo, students can showcase their work and be recognized for their effort. Service-Learning Center hosts an Expo during Fall (November) and Spring (April).  You can register individually or in teams and present your work to the TAMIU community.   This is a great opportunity to present your amazing work and promotes your public speaking experience!  Learn more in our Expo page.

What if I feel uncomfortable at the service-learning site?

TAMIU encourages any student, employee, or third party who thinks s/he has been subjected to illegal discrimination, sexual harassment (which includes sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual exploitation), or related retaliation by another student, employee, or third party to immediately report the incident to any of the individuals listed below. If you would like to file a complaint related to your service, please email TitleIX@tamiu.edu.  For additional information, on Title IX, please visit the webpage by clicking here.


Stoecker, R., Tryon, E. A., & Hilgendorf, A. (Eds.). (2009). The unheard voices: Community organizations and service learning. Temple University Press.
Adapted from University of Minnesota. Frequently Asked Questions about Service-Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2015.

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Service-Learning Center

Senator Judith Zaffirni Student Success Center 223 |  (956)326-3135 |  servicelearning@tamiu.edu |  @txamiu.servicelearning