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Frequently Asked Service Questions
WHAT SERVICE LEARNING IS ALL ABOUT?
- So what is service learning?
It is a combination of service and learning. That means it’s not just volunteering, in which one goes out and performs some good act in the community, and that’s the end of it. Instead, service is incorporated into one’s education. Think of it as hands-on learning. You are making a contribution to the community, while the community is helping to teach you; it’s a reciprocal relationship.
- Why do we do service learning in Honors?
One of the six Honors Program Goals is Civic Engagement. That means we want students to think of themselves as members of a community (local, regional, national, global), to be able to critically assess issues in that community, and to have both the skills and the motivation to act on those issues. Service Learning is a great way to develop these skills.
- Do I have to do service?
Many of our Honors classes incorporate service learning as a course requirement. In addition to this co-curricular service, we highly encourage our students to participate in extra-curricular service outside of any course requirements. We have an elaborate service learning program for students to participate in as they wish. Students with an Honors Program Tuition Waiver are required to do 12 hours of service and write a paper each semester.
- What is a “service theme”?
Every year Honors chooses a theme for our service to better concentrate our efforts and our education on one particular issue. In the past, we have focused on International Issues, Environmental Issues, Poverty, Human Rights, Education, and this year our theme is Wellness. Students nominate and vote on an appropriate charity for our fundraising efforts that year, too. Students can choose to be involved with other issues if they’d rather, but picking one issue to highlight each year allows us to do more programming (speakers, films, curriculum, etc.) on that topic. For instance, first-year students touch on the issue in their Honors 101, 102, or 103 courses, and we offer special colloquia that relate to the topic. This should make our service more meaningful and more effective.
- What are these “educational components” all about?
In a co-curricular project, learning is built in. You spend the semester learning about a subject in class while you’re performing service in that area. The course provides opportunities for structured reflection, and naturally facilities learning. When you do service outside of a class context, you need to add additional educational activities. These approved activities might include listening to a guest speaker, watching a film, reading an article, or taking part in a discussion. And the educational components also count toward your service hour total.
- What kind of projects should I choose to participate in?
Look for projects that address your particular concerns in the world and would enhance your academic learning at UND. This might mean choosing a project that relates to your major or that might give you valuable skills in your chosen career. Ask yourself questions like, “What talents and knowledge do I have to offer the community? What do I want to learn more about? What do I really care about?” You can also discuss these issues with your Service Mentor.
THE RANGE OF PROJECTS
- Should I be participating in lots of projects or just one?
We encourage students to first explore a variety of projects and then begin to narrow down their involvement to one or two that mean the most to them. As you progress through your academic career, your breadth will likely decrease and your depth will increase. Your experience will enable you to serve in more sophisticated roles, and you’ll be more helpful to the agency. And research suggests that a service experience that is sustained for 20 or more hours is much more educational than shorter experiences of “drive-by service.”
- How do the projects get chosen?
Honors is responsible for over 5,000 hours of service in the community each year, and all the projects are student-driven. We don’t dictate what they’re going to work on; instead, it’s up to students to decide what kinds of issues they care about. Students propose projects, sit on a committee to approve projects, and coordinate the projects.
- What if none of the current projects fit my interests?
Propose your own! For the service to be meaningful, it should grow from your own interests and concerns. Consider what kind of work would do this, and when you have a project in mind, fill out and submit the Service Project Proposal Form. And remember, your service mentor can help brainstorm ideas with you.
- Can anything count for service?
No. We have a few broad requirements. First of all, it has to be appropriately educational, and it should advance several of the Honors Program Goals: Thinking, Scholarly Inquiry, Writing, Perspective, Civic Engagement, and Speaking. Second, students can’t earn Honors service hours for projects for which they are otherwise being compensated. Service performed for course credit, money, or to fulfill the requirements for another organization don’t count. Finally, the nature of the project should foster respect and exchange of ideas, and should not exclude other students in the Honors Program due to differences in race, creed, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. (Remember, UND is a state-sponsored institution.) For example, campaigning on behalf of a political organization would not count. Teaching Sunday school wouldn’t, either, but serving meals to the homeless with a church group might.
- How do I know if a project I want to do is an approved Honors project?
We will try to keep an updated list of approved projects available on the Honors website. Or you can ask Robin David. What if I want to do a project that hasn’t been approved? Propose it! Just fill out and submit the Service Project Proposal Form. The Service Learning Committee meets every two weeks, so plan ahead. Try to submit it two weeks in advance for an individual project and four weeks in advance for a group project.
- Is any money available to fund a service project?
Yes! Honors won the 2008 Founders Day award for Departmental Excellence in Service, and we decided to make the prize money available to advance service in the program. Fill out the Service Project Funding Request Form for review by the Service Learning Committee. We don’t have a large pool of money to work with, so we can’t fund more than $20 per project.
- Do I have to do a group project, or can I do something on my own?
We want you to find projects that are the most meaningful to you, whatever form they might come in. Group projects do help to enhance the community of Honors, but sometimes you’ll be able to find a better fit for a project by striking out on your own.
- How do I do an individual project?
You’ll first need to find out if the project has been approved by checking the Service Project Master List. If it isn’t on the list, check with Robin David and then fill out the Service Project Proposal Form. We encourage you to come up with appropriate educational components to supplement your service experience, too. Record your hours on the Hours Verification Form, and have the agency supervisor sign the form or write us a note on agency letterhead.
- How can I get involved in service leadership?
Because our service learning program is student-run, we have lots of leadership opportunities available. Here they are: Service Project Coordinator: Each group project that goes on at Honors is coordinated by a student. This person gets approval for the project, advertises it, communicates with both the agency and the volunteers, plans and implements an educational component, and keeps track of hours. Honors Service Learning Group (H-SLuG) Member or Officer: H-SLuG meets every other week for about an hour. They offer feedback on service proposals and help decide service policy. Meetings are open to anyone who wants to stop in and offer input—no need to officially join or be elected. Peer Service Mentor: Students submit an application in the spring, and the term runs approximately from one March to the next March. These students work with a first-year Honors class and are also assigned 10-15 students to mentor through the service program at Honors. This is a great way to help students get more out of their service experience. Please visit with Robin David if you’re interested in getting involved in any way!
- What are Peer Service Mentors?
PSMs are students who are highly motivated in the field of service and eager to share their experience with others. They have two main tasks. First, each mentor works with one Honors 101, 102, or 103 class to introduce the first year students to our service learning program and to help them with their class service project. Second, each mentor works individually with 10-15 students to help them progress in their service. They answer questions, read and assess service papers, and meet one-on-one with their mentees. All tuition waiver recipients are assigned a Faculty or Peer Service Mentor and other students will happily be assigned to one upon requesting. Just ask Robin.
- How do I know what projects are going on?
Several ways: Read the Service Roundup emails that go out to the Honors listserv every week. Flip through the red binder in the Honors Office to see the sign-up sheets. Check the calendar on the Honors website and look for events that are marked with “SP” (Service Project). Peruse the Service Project Master List.
- How do I sign up for a project?
You’ll find a red binder in the Honors Office (Robertson 7) on the table next to the student printer. Sign-up sheets for each project are in there, as well as contact information to get in touch with the project coordinator.
- How do I keep track of my service hours?
Every time you do service, record the hours on your Personal Service Hour Log. Waiting until the end of the semester and trying to remember what projects you did when and for how long is NOT a good idea.
- What do I do at the end of the semester?
Complete your Personal Service Hour Log and write a 3-page critical analysis of your service. Remember to include a signed Hours Verification Form if you did any individual projects.
- Where do I get the service forms?
All forms are available both on the Honors website and in the literature sorter on the table next to the student printer in the Honors office (Robertson 7).
- Can service hours carry over from one semester to the next?
Yes, hours can carry over within one academic year. For instance, excess hours from the fall can carry over to the spring, but all hours expire at the end of the academic year in May.
- Can projects I’ve done for a class toward my service hour total?
No. EXCEPT for Honors 101, 102, or 103. Generally we do not give Honors hours for projects that you’re already receiving credit for. However, we do make an exception for students in the introductory Honors courses. We figure first-year students have so many things to try to figure out that we give them a little help. Hours from their Honors 101, 102, or 103 class can count toward their service hour total. However, if the student has a tuition waiver, she or he must still participate in at least one outside project to get some experience using the red binder and navigating through the service learning program.
- Can I do service during the summer?
Yes, hours from the summer can count for the upcoming academic year. Same procedures and policies apply for summer service. However, a student cannot earn ALL hours for the year during the summer. She/he must still participate in at least one project during the academic year. And this summer service can only count for students who have already been through our service learning program; service before one’s first year in college can’t count.
- Can I get a record of my service hours?
Just stop by the Honors office (Robertson 7) and ask either the student assistant or Diane to print off your service report.
- What is a service certificate?
Any student who completes 30 or more hours of service in an academic year and writes a critical analysis earns a service certificate. Students can earn one each of their years in Honors. (They look great on refrigerators. And resumes.)