Faculty FAQs

Is another faculty member doing something similar to my course?

Most likely the answer is yes. If they are not here at UConn, Julia Yakovich, director of Service Learning, can connect you with a faculty member who can provide tips
and guidance in your field of study. You can view the list of Service Learning Faculty Fellows to get an idea of topic areas of faculty here at UConn.

How do I choose the right community partner?

If you have designed your course goals and objectives and a community
partner has similar needs, a relationship can be established based on mutual needs. You’ll want to ask if there is a person dedicated to this project to assist the students and to participate in class discussions, reflection, and the service portion at their community site.

Are students typically open to this type of class?

Students appreciate this style of teaching and learning because of the benefits to them (reinforced learning, career development, social and cultural benefits). With that said, it is important that students are aware of the time commitment of a service-learning course.

How can I let my students know about service learning?

We encourage all faculty to apply for a Service Learning designation to be listed in PeopleSoft. Faculty can also advertise an SL course ahead of time and email registered students ahead of the semester to explain service learning. It is important to embed service learning in your syllabus and to explain it on the first day of class. If the goals and objectives of the course curriculum and the community project align and reflection occurs, students will make the connections between the service and the learning, theory and practice.

How many hours should my students spend on a service learning project?

There is no set number of hours placed on a service learning project/experience. The number of hours is determined by the faculty member and community partner based on their mutual needs.

How will my students get to the community partner site?

Students can use a number of options that will vary based on the campus. From Storrs, students can use a bus or their own car. The Office of Community Outreach has transportation for groups that will need to be arranged ahead of time at a cost. Students at regional campuses may use their own transportation, buses, trains, walking, etc. If faculty need additional assistance with transportation, we encourage you to contact julia.yakovich@uconn.edu.

I’m looking to publish. Is my work with the community publishable?

Absolutely. What you do in collaboration with the community partner can be published, whether in journals of your discipline or in SL journals. We strongly encourage all faculty to consider publishing the outcomes of any data created through SL relationships, provided that the community partner has agreed to it. Publications can also turn into grant opportunities which can also lead to sustained relationships. You will want to check in with the IRB ahead of time for submission logistics. The Office of Service Learning can assist you with this part of the process as well.

Do I need to do use service learning every semester?

No; however, the partnerships that you develop should be kept intact in order to create a sustainable relationship. If you are not doing a service-learning project, perhaps another faculty member can use your existing relationship. It is important that partnerships are continued and nurtured over time.

Why do I need to include critical reflection?

Structured critical reflection is the key to successful service learning. We want students to participate as active learners; reflection is a mechanism to achieve that goal. It is the “bridge” between theory and practice that enables students to grapple with what they learn in the classroom and what they experience in the real world. It allows faculty to check in with students to be sure that learning goals are being met and that the community relationship is productive and beneficial to both the student and the partner. It allows students time to process how course material pertains directly to the experience with the community, reinforcing the learning. Involving community partners in reflection is encouraged because it reinforces the relationship and allows participation in meaningful, educational, and practical ways.

How should I structure reflection?

Reflection can be a facilitated discussion with the class or a written assignment (journals, papers, blog, online chat). It can be in the form of artwork, music, poetry, role playing or any other creative mechanism. The key to students getting the most out of reflection is in the questions asked by the instructor/ facilitator prodding students to think deeper and in meaningful ways about how the coursework and community aspect are connected. What, so what, now what? is a solid foundation for the beginning stage of reflection.