Service-learners vs. Volunteers

There are a variety of ways to get involved with service during your time at SF State and it's never too late to make volunteering a part of your Gator experience. Volunteer service is a great way to get involved with your community! This type of service is not linked to an academic/credit-bearing course, and can be performed by individuals, groups, student clubs/organizations and even with your family. Service-learning students do community service in conjunction with an academic course they are taking.


Example of Volunteering in the Community

  • You tutor 3rd grade children in reading and math at Lakeshore Elementary. Note: At SF State, we consider "volunteering" as a type of service not linked to an academic/credit-bearing course. If you are volunteering on your own time and not associated with a service-learning and/or academic internship course and receiving academic course credit, the SF State liability insurance available to these students will not apply to you.

Question:

  • Who is the intended beneficiary in this relationship?

Answer:

  • The elementary students receiving the tutoring is the intended beneficiary. You as the volunteer will certainly benefit from this experience as well, however, the intent of the volunteering is to make a difference in the lives of those you are serving. That’s volunteerism.

Example of Service-Learning Experience in the Community

  • You are enrolled in a Social/Political Inequality course  and service-learning is optional for this course. You complete your service-learning placement with the University-approved community partner, 826 Valencia and you serve as a reading tutor.

Question:

  • Who is the intended beneficiary in this relationship?

Answer:

  • Both you and the students receiving the tutoring are the intended beneficiaries. In a service-learning experience, the students you are tutoring benefits because they get the assistance they need to be successful in reading. But you also benefit. You have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you are learning in your Social/Political Inequality course in a real world setting.

Service-learning experience / reflection as it might occur in your course:

  • You are a reading tutor.
  • You analyze what you are learning in class of the impact of socio-economic inequality on young people and the factors that reproduce this inequality from one generation to the next (example: lack of access to educational opportunities) by tutoring and spending the time with students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • You provide crucial support to 826 Valencia's after-school programs.
  • You have the opportunity to reflect on your experience in class. This is service-learning.