Service Learning

Developing And Delivering Student Orientation

The Orientation Checklist (below) is a tool to help you properly prepare service-learning students for their community experience. This checklist, more than any other, can be easily adapted to each campus and each service-learning placement. The orientation should provide students with a clear understanding of the work they will be doing, the risks associated with that work, and how they should conduct themselves when they are working in the community as part of a class assignment. The information and specifics you need in order to put together a comprehensive student orientation will come from the conversations you have had with the community-based organization. You should also discuss what information each party will cover so that time is not spent duplicating efforts. All the responses to the questions in the Checklist for Community-Based Organization Visit will guide your orientation.

It is recommended that two orientations occur:

The First Orientation, prior to the first day of service, gives students information about the community-based organization and the nature of their service placements. This should take place on campus, either in class or in a required outside-of-class meeting.

The Second Orientation, presented by the community-based organization, should take place at the site where students will be working. This is the simplest, most effective way for students to become aware of emergency policies, accident procedures, and the rules and regulations of the site.

Since orientation addresses all the factors students should be made aware of before accepting the service-learning placements, all students should attend both orientations in order to be permitted to serve. While we don't want to 'scare' students out of participating, all parties are best protected if placement details are presented, any questions asked, and students sign an informed consent that ensures they are aware of the nature of their placement and agree to the terms. The informed consent policy is contained within the Learning Plan where it is most effectively used as both a learning tool and a risk management tool.

Orientation Checklist

Print version

Orientation Provided Before First Day of Service

Details related to serving at the site:

  • Mission of the Community-Based Organization (CBO)
  • Who does the Community-Based Organization serve?
  • What programs / service does the CBO offer?
  • Specific policies and procedures related to the service placement.
  • Review any proof of eligibilities that is needed (fingerprinting, background check). Who will cover the cost of this? Where should students do to have fingerprinting done?
  • Discuss CBO volunteer expectations.
  • Provide students with a job description detailing the work they will do (outline the scope of work). Explain the types of activities that are "outside" the scope of work.
  • Give the students their site supervisor's contact information.
  • Will the students need to meet with the site supervisor prior to beginning their services?
  • How closely will the students be supervised?
  • Who do the students call if they cannot make their schedule service or will be late?
  • Discuss appropriate attire when providing service (based on CBO standards).
  • Provide specific training for the position.
  • What will the students learn? What qualities or skills will the students develop?
  • Review confidentially rules for the site. Are pictures or video allowed?
  • Review the risks associated with this placement. (Risks should directly reflect those listed in the Learning Plan.)
  • Explain what students should do it harassment occurs. Whom do they contact?
  • Talk about service schedule (total number of hours, days and times of the week, etc.). Also discuss beginning and end of service. Students should not volunteer outside of schedule hours until requirement is complete.
  • Who can the students contact with questions or concerns about their placement (CBO contact and campus contact)?
  • Is there a CBO training or orientation to attend? Where? When? How long?
  • Where do students check in at the site on their first day?
  • How are students' service hours recorded? (For their course and the CBO)
  • Give location of site and directions via personal car or public transportation. Where will students park if they drive? What is the cost associated with parking or taking public transportation? Emphasize that each student is responsible for getting to and from the site.
  • Who will be evaluating the students' service? Is there a formal evaluation the CBO will fill out?

On site Orientation - Must Occur On or Before First Day of Service

Site Specific Information:

  • Tour of site - location of restroom and break room.
  • Where, and with whom, do students check in each time they arrive at the site?
  • Where is the logbook kept (to record service hours)?
  • Review safety rules of the site, location of emergency exits, and emergency procedures.
  • Introduce students to other staff at the agency.
  • Emergency Contact Information: ask students' permission to share with university.
  • Review accident procedures at the site and what to do if a student it client is hurt.
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