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Frequently Asked Questions - Students

How do I sign up for service-learning?

Students sign up for service-learning by meeting with a service-learning staff member in the Civic and Community Engagement Center and following the enrollment procedures for the program

Do I need to sign up for service-learning if it is required in the class I am taking?

Yes. Visit the Civic and Community Engagement Center, meet with service-learning staff and proceed from there.

Do I need to sign up for service-learning if it is offered as an option in the class I am taking and I do not choose the service-learning option?

No. It is not necessary to sign up if you choose another assignment over service-learning. However, it is necessary to sign up if you choose the service-learning option.

How many hours must I complete in order to satisfy my service-learning commitment?

The total number of hours to be completed during the semester is decided upon by the course professor in consultation with the service-learning staff.

Why must I attend orientation and reflection sessions?

At orientation sessions you are briefed about what to expect from your prospective placement and their probable expectations of you. Further, the orientation sessions provide you with suggestions for integrating your service experience with your academic work.

Attendance at reflection sessions is critical because not all service-learning students are given the opportunity to consider their experiences in the classroom setting. The sessions are often powerful because students from many disciplines, classes and a variety of placements come together for a lively exchange centering on the placement experience and its connection to other areas of concern.

Where will my service-learning placement be located?

Community partner organizations and agencies are located throughout Bergen and Passaic counties, and Rockland and Orange counties in New York . From time to time students also perform service-learning in other parts of New Jersey and in New York City .

How will I get to my service-learning placement?

Most often, students travel to their placements in their own vehicles. Students without their own transportation are encouraged to carpool with others.

Will other Ramapo or other college students also be working at the site?

There is a h3 possibility, depending on the needs of the organization or agency, that other Ramapo students will be engaged in service-learning or some form of experiential learning at the same site. There is also the possibility that students from other colleges or universities will be performing similar forms of experiential learning at the site.

Frequently Asked Questions - Community Partner Representatives

How do I learn more about the Service-Learning Program?

Contact service-learning staff members Karen Booth by e-mail: kbooth@ramapo.edu or at 201.684.7447.

How do I arrange for Ramapo students to volunteer with my organization?

Contact Karen as noted above. They will likely request to visit your organization to learn more and to meet with you to better facilitate the placement of students. Following the visit or, if necessary, a telephone meeting, the service-learning staff will add your organization’s information to its database. Your organization will then be available for students who may be interested in doing volunteer work there.

What is expected of me once I have accepted a service-learning student?

  • First, it is important to orient the student to your organization’s overall operation and mission
  • Provide the student with adequate training, if necessary.
  • Introduce student to appropriate staff and brief explain their duties.
  • Prepare a plan for and monitor the student’s work by designating a qualified and interested person to serve as the student’s supervisor.
  • Finally, help the student link the work experience with your organization to the learning goals developed jointly by the student and his or her course instructor.
Frequently Asked Questions - Faculty

How do I arrange to offer service-learning in my classes?

Contact service-learning staff member Karen Booth by e-mail: kbooth@ramapo.edu or at 201.684.7447.

How do I go about integrating service-learning into my course(s)?

Meet with the service-learning staff as noted above to discuss learning objectives for your students. These are some questions you might want to ask yourself: In what ways will service-learning strengthen my course(s)? What possibilities does service-learning offer for energizing or motivating my students in new and different ways? How will it benefit my students to volunteer in the community while simultaneously doing the work in my course(s)?

Where do students perform their service-learning assignments?

The service-learning staff will work with you to determine the appropriateness of service-learning placements and the responsibilities assigned to students. Course content and goals are the h3est factors in deciding on the appropriateness of a specific placement. Over the past decade, the Service-Learning Program has worked with well over one hundred community partner organizations. Some of our community partners include the Mahwah School District , the Paterson School District , the Passaic County Public Defender’s Office, Weis Ecology Center , Rockland Family Court, Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg’s Office, Representative Scott Garrett’s Office, Friends for Life, the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless, the Day Laborers’ Project and Lorrimer Sanctuary.

Can faculty from all Schools and disciplines participate?

Yes, without question. Service-Learning is an adventure in interdisciplinarity. It has the capacity to cross disciplines and transcend them while reinforcing a commitment to learning itself as well as encouraging a lifelong commitment to the common good.

Why should I incorporate service-learning in my course(s)?

If you believe that neither teaching nor learning occur in a vacuum and if you believe that your students should be encouraged to actively participate in the society of which they are members, then you should h3ly consider incorporating service-learning into your course(s). Many cultural observers believe we are living in an age where people, especially college students, assign greater value and meaning to activities, including learning, in which they can be active participants. Inherently experiential, service-learning demands active participation and engagement from those who choose it.

Are there other issues to be considered?

Yes. Students and all others involved in the service-learning experience should be aware of the following factors that may have an impact on the experience.

Reliability

– Volunteers play an essential role in many understaffed and underfinanced agencies and organizations. Students must understand that their scheduling commitments must be fully honored.

Sensitivity

– Many service-learning positions involve work with people whose backgrounds and experiences may differ significantly from their own. Participants must be aware of and sensitive to the needs and feelings of those with whom they interact. Service-Learning is built upon reciprocity in learning and mutual respect among all constituents.

Professionalism

– It is sometimes difficult to strike a balance between caring for others and becoming overly involved and fostering dependence. Site supervisors will guide participants in approaching and carrying out their duties professionally.

Confidentiality

– In many fields, information about clients or patients is covered by very strict rules of confidentiality. Supervisors will guide participants affected by obligations of confidentiality.

Observations of Unethical Behavior

– Participants observing possible unethical or illegal conduct should not attempt to address the situation on their own. Rather, consult immediately with the site supervisor, if appropriate and a Service-Learning Program staff member.

Stress

– Everyone experiences some degree of stress at one time or another. Because placements can be in settings that some may feel to be sad or depressing – e.g., nursing homes, homeless shelters, soup kitchens – it is important to maintain an awareness of how you might be reacting, in mind and body, to your experiences and interactions with others. Sometimes serving and learning in such settings can offer us the opportunity to challenge ourselves and our comfort levels. It is important to make every effort to maintain a sense of balance. Should you be feeling a high level of stress due to a situation or experience at your service-learning placement, contact a service-learning staff member immediately.

Safety

– Nothing is more important than your safety. Wherever you are placed, you must always be mindful of the setting and its surroundings. If, at any time, you believe your safety to be compromised, speak with your site supervisor, contact a service-learning staff member and, if warranted, leave the site. The service-learning staff will work with you to remedy the situation at the site if at all possible or arrange for you to transfer to another service-learning placement.

Liability

– The College is not by law able to indemnify or defend students from their negligent acts, errors or omissions. Volunteer service is usually covered by the liability insurance of the host agency or possibly through a parent’s or guardian’s homeowners, renters, and/or automobile liability insurance policy. It is recommended that students discuss the personal liability situation with the service-learning site, and if appropriate, with their parent’s or guardian’s insurance agency. Participation in off-campus service-learning, while h3ly encouraged and highly valuable, is always voluntary.