What is Service Learning?

Service Learning is an academic program that enables students to perform meaningful community service related to their courses. Combining community service with classroom theory enriches students' learning, personal growth and sense of civic responsibility. At the same time, this work builds community and enhances the efforts of the collaborating agencies.

Will I get a grade for doing community service?

Credit is not given for the service alone. You must demonstrate that learning has occurred to have it count toward your grade. Therefore, before you even start working at your chosen agency, try to figure out what aspects of the agency, its clients, or the work itself might connect to the particular Service Learning course you are taking. Then, while you are working at the site, keep these things in mind so you can relate your service experience to specific course content. We in the Service Learning Program make every effort to offer you placements that will in some way link up with the course you are taking. You must make the effort to find out what those connections are as you work at the agency. Many professors will state the learning objectives of the course in the syllabus, which may help guide your learning. If you are still unsure about how to connect your service experience to the course, discuss it with your professor or with a member of the Service Learning staff.

What kind of service would I do?

There are over 130 placements in Milwaukee from which you may choose a site. Your professor has already picked sites that will correlate with your coursework. The Courses & Placements page lists the placements that your professor has chosen.

How much time will the service take?

Generally professors ask for 20 hours in a semester, which breaks down to about two or three hours a week. However, sometimes professors ask for more time. Also, the time slots available at each agency depend on the project you choose. When you look over the descriptions of the placements, the commitment you are expected to make to that agency will appear on the bottom of the page. You should consider your schedule and availability carefully before choosing. The service should continue throughout the semester. Please do not quit going to the site before the end of the semester just because you may have met your professor's hour requirement. The agency is depending on your help!

Can I ever be absent?

If you must miss a service day due to illness or emergency, at the very least you must contact someone at the school or agency. You are excused from service during schedules school breaks, but be sure to remind your site contact that you will be absent.

How is this different from volunteer work?

The actual work you do at a school or agency might not be different from what you would have done as a volunteer. However, your approach to the work should be different from that of a volunteer. You will be looking more closely at the place, the people, your experiences, and your reactions to find deeper meanings that relate to your course content. We call this Service Learning because you're at the placement not just to do service but to learn something about the course you're taking by working in the community.

How do I sign up?

First, look over the description of placements that have been tailored to your course and are listed under your professor's name on our website. Choose three to five that appeal to you and fit into your schedule. Use our online process to register for the program, and come to the Service Learning Sign-Up Night at the time indicated on your EventBrite ticket (see Checklist for date, time, and location). If you're undecided about which placement to choose, the Student Coordinators can help by giving you information about a number of different sites. If you can't come to the Sign-Up Night, you may sign up in the Service Learning office in the 707 Building, #303 between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. during the week after the official Sign-Up.

Note: Check the date of the Site Orientation before you sign up. This is a required meeting for you to be able to participate at that site.

What is a Student Coordinator?

Your Student Coordinator (SC) works for the Service Learning Program and arranges your service at your specific site. Your SC is familiar with the site where you are doing service and is available to help you with any problems you may have. Please contact your SC if you have concerns with transportation, getting in touch with your site contact, making a connection between your service and your class, safety, and any other problems or questions that may arise throughout the semester. You can find all of the contact information for your SC on the Service Learning Quick Guide that you have received when you signed up for your site, or on the Staff Information page on our web site. You will be hearing from you SC throughout the semester, mostly via e-mail. This is your SC's way of helping you reflect upon the service that you are doing and a chance to let them know how your experience is going. Your SC will also be collecting paperwork from you throughout the semester. The contract will be collected after your site orientation and the Timesheet will be collected the week before finals in order to report your service hours to your professor.

What happens after I sign up?

It is your responsibility to start your service. The first step is to attend the site orientation. The date and time of the orientation will be listed on the Service Learning Quick Guide that you are given when you sign up. If the sheet says that there will be an individual orientation, then you must call the site contact to set up a time to do this. At the orientation the specific time to start your service will be determined. If you have problems getting started with your service, contact your Student Coordinator as soon as possible.

Can I find my own placement instead of using one of the "official ones?"

Yes, but you should be aware of a few things if you are going to choose an Independent Placement:

How will I get to my service site?

Given that there are 1,000-1,500 participants each semester, our program does not have the capacity to provide transportation for service learners. However, we believe that riding the bus is one of the best ways to engage with the greater Milwaukee community, and presents a wonderful learning opportunity for appreciating the neighborhood that Marquette calls home. A number of Service Learning placements are within walking distance of the campus; others are farther off campus. The UPass has made it possible for you to get to the vast majority of sites on a city bus. There are a few placements that cannot reasonably be reached on the bus. For these you will need to get access to a car, or go with another Service Learner who has a car. Be sure to check the Placement Description for transportation information.

Will I be safe if I go off campus to do service learning?

Although we have never heard of a crime committed against a Service Learning student while he/she was performing service in the central city, the possibility is certainly there. The Service Learning staff is very concerned about your safety, so we are recommending the following steps to decrease the likelihood of problems:

What if I start my service and don't like it?

Given the fact that this will be a short-term experience for you, it's unlikely that it will be too awful to continue. Before you decide to quit, consider whether it will give you information that would be useful for your course (or maybe for life). Talk over your issues with your Student Coordinator, and possibly with your professor. If you simply cannot continue, your Student Coordinator will help you bow out gracefully and - if there's time in the semester - will assist you in finding a more suitable placement.

What if I enjoy my site and their mission, but feel like I am not being fully utilized or given an appropriate role within the agency?

Service Learning is a wonderful way for students to take initiative and contribute to the mission of countless different organizations within the city of Milwaukee. If you feel like you are being underutilized or are having trouble drawing a connection between your service and your course curriculum, we encourage you to have a conversation with your site contact about other options that may exist. If you are in need of more assistance, do not hesitate to ask your Student Coordinator for help.

If you have any other questions, please ask your Student Coordinator or any of the Service Learning Program staff.


Contact Us

Marquette University Service Learning
P.O. Box 1881
1102 W. Wisconsin Ave. Room 303
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

Phone Number: (414) 288-0250
Fax Number: (414) 288-3259

Meet the Staff