Program Operation

The Service Learning Program facilitates service learning at Marquette in several ways.

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Course Selection

  • Informing faculty about service learning and encouraging them to offer a service option for their course(s).
  • Selecting courses to participate in the Service Learning Program.
  • Communicating to students about which courses include a service component.

For the pilot semester (spring 1994), all faculty were polled to learn who would want to include a service option in one or more courses. Nearly 60 faculty members expressed interest in joining the project. Ten courses were selected to participate. A similar process has been employed to find courses for each ensuing semester.

Faculty Development

  • Providing ongoing training and support to faculty who use service learning in their classes.

The program director meets individually with faculty members before they use service learning in a course for the first time. They discuss the content of the course, which elements might be enhanced by a community experience, and ways of setting up the course. 

At the end of each spring semester, the Service Learning Program sponsors a one- to three-day workshop to enable Marquette faculty to discuss this teaching method in detail. Evaluations from faculty attending these workshops were uniformly and overwhelmingly positive. Most attendees have gone on to use service learning in one or more courses.

Placement Selection

  • Contacting local community agencies and schools.
  • Selecting those agencies with potential to provide a variety of meaningful service experiences for students.

Service learning placements are carefully chosen to complement the content of each service learning course. In some courses, like Introduction to Social Welfare and Justice, the possibilities for placements are very broad. In others, such as Spanish for the Health Professions, the number of placements that will fit the course is smaller and much more specific. Finding these specialized placements often requires an extensive knowledge of community organizations and a fair amount of creativity.

In addition to the sites offered by the program for each course, students are also able to find their own placements, with the approval of the professor. These are known as independent placements.

Student Placement

  • Informing students about placement possibilities.
  • Matching students with a school or agency that provides service experiences complementing material learned in class.

During the first week of classes, service learning staff attend each of the service learning courses (with the approval of the professor) to orient the students to the program and to introduce them to the placements selected for the course. Description sheets for each placement are compiled into a packet and left with the classes.

The official sign-up for service learning occurs in the second week of classes. Student Coordinators work with 6-10 organizations to set up logistics and assist students with finding the right organization to work for the semester.

Student Preparation

  • Familiarizing students with the Service Learning Program.
  • Orienting them to their placement site.
  • Instructing them in the tasks they will be performing.

Besides the in-class orientations mentioned above, each semester the program sponsors a reflection session to prepare students to participate fully in their service learning experience. The first reflection session covers the basics, including concerns about transportation and safety, but also relies on the student coordinators and veteran service learners to help students best prepare for entering the community with an open mind and a desire to learn.

Before students begin their community service work, they attend individual and/or small group orientations for their specific placement sites. These site orientations acquaint students with the agencies and with the jobs they will be doing.

Student Monitoring and Assisting

  • Ensuring that students get to placement sites and fulfill their service commitment.
  • Providing an avenue for students to address placement-related problems.
  • Enabling students to reflect on service learning experience.

Student coordinators serve as liaisons between the agencies and the service learning students. They assist service learners with transportation problems, set up site orientations, help with placement problems, report service hours to faculty, discuss service experiences with students and organize staff in-services.  The student staff also plan and facilitate reflection sessions that allow service learners from the various courses to process the issues and feelings that arise from their experiences in the community and discuss ways of linking the service to course content. For more information on these reflection sessions, please see the Reflections page.