Working with Faculty & Students

ICCE is here to help facilitate the relationship between faculty members and community partner relationships through providing networking opportunities on our digital community engagement platform, ULINK, as well as introducing community partners to different departments and faculty members. Some faculty members also have their own network consisting of community partners.

When faculty members work with ICCE, we assist those community partners with direct advertising educational opportunities, which can include volunteer work and internships, to students through multiple channels. At ICCE, we recognize the different resources within an organization and do our best to match community partners with faculty members and respective departments which in turn fit our community partners’ needs.

The Faculty and Community Partner Relationship

Collaborating with faculty can be both challenging and rewarding for community partners. It can be helpful to know a bit about the types and roles that faculty members play at SF State. 

Types of faculty members

  • Tenured and tenure-track faculty have three roles in their job. Their primary is teaching, followed by scholarship and service. The tenure track is a professor's pathway to promotion and academic job security. An assistant professorship is an entry-level tenure-track position. An associate professor or professor has achieved tenure-track.

  • Faculty Lecturers, also called instructors, adjuncts, part-time, and temporary, are hired to teach particular courses. Lecturers and adjuncts are not on the tenure track and may or may not participate in the other two roles (scholarship and service).



Tenured and tenure-track faculty are required to participate in scholarship.  This might look like research, creative activity, and the publishing and presenting of that scholarship.

San Francisco State University is composed of six colleges, which are comprised of more than seventy-five schools and departments offering over two hundred academic programs, majors, minors, concentrations, and credential and certificate programs.

San Francisco State University operates on a semester system. 

Service-Learning Models

Service-learning offers different structural models for faculty and their students to pursue academic, vocational, social, and civic learning outcomes.  Academic service-learning experiences can be structured in several ways. 

At SF State, faculty tend to use one of three models:

Service-Learning Courses: Placements vs. Projects 

Service-learning courses are designed to help students apply course concepts to structured, community-based experiences. Service-learning courses provide structured critical reflection guided by faculty and opportunities for professional development. Students develop civic and social responsibility while addressing issues identified by community partners. There are two types of service-learning experiences students can participate in service-learning placements or service-learning projects. Read about the differences below. Students typically devote a minimum of ~20-30 hours over a ~10-15 week period. 

Placement-Based: Students as Volunteers/Interns

Placement-based service-learning courses require students to volunteer for a minimum of 20 hours with a community organization or project. Faculty members inform their students to refer to ICCE to assist them in finding a service site. Students may either find a non-profit partner organization with whom to volunteer or faculty can identify a smaller group of organizations where students can volunteer.  Placement-based experiences enhance students' understanding of course content by asking them to volunteer directly in the community at an organization whose mission aligns with the course's academic outcomes. 

In many service-learning courses, Individual students or groups of students fill volunteer roles at your organization, usually offering 3-5 hours per week throughout the semester for a total of 20-40 hours of service (depending on the course requirements and the needs of the service site) over a 10 -15 week time period. Through structured reflection activities, such as discussion, and written/reading assignments, faculty members guide students to understand how their community experiences link with the academic and civic learning objectives of the course. For example, students in an evironmental studies class may volunteer with an organization conducting eco-restoration, or students in a health care management class might volunteer with a community health clinic.

Project-Based: Engage Specific Courses in Projects

Project-based service-learning courses require students to work together in teams or as a whole class to produce and deliver a product for one or more community-based organizations. The project's deliverables are determined by the organization's client(s).  These projects may involve a research component.  Students in a project-based service-learning course work together over the course of a semester, acting as consultants to the organization under the guidance of the professor. Some faculty members facilitate projects in collaboration with community partners. Students may work together to generate a product over a 10-15 week period. Examples of past collaborations had design students generate graphics and a website for a community partner and students in urban poverty and policy course partnered with the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco to conduct field surveys and qualitative interviews with people experiencing homelessness on where and why people without stable housing find shelter and access the things they need to survive and feel safe. Students apply their academic knowledge to real-world problems and organizations get a concrete product that advances the mission of the organization.


Education/Advocacy service-learning courses require students to work together to illuminate a social or political issue for the broader community in order to inspire them to action for personal or social change.   Students might create a health fair or a public health symposium to disseminate information about critical issues facing the community.  Community members would use the information for personal or collective action.   Students might also create and publish materials (such as newspaper articles, magazines, websites or electronic portfolios, videos, etc.) designed to make information more accessible to the general public. 

Note: Some projects require some lead time and preparation, so please contact ICCE early - at least three months before the start of the project. Some faculty announce a call for proposals in an effort to recruit community partners to collaborate with their students. ICCE will then forward this information to our community partners via email.


The most sustainable way to work with a university is through the faculty. Having an excellent relationship with a faculty member will make your experience deeper and more flexible. Some tips for working with faculty:

  • Whenever possible, be involved at every step of the course or project and its development.

  • To develop real partnerships (and avoid logistical nightmares), work with as few faculty members as possible. Perhaps there’s one you’re already involved with.

  • Aim to assist faculty in working only with you or one or two other organizations. At the same time, connect your faculty members with other community partners, as appropriate.

  • Get the faculty member involved with your organization in other ways.

  • When you leave your organization, help the faculty member with the transition to the new staff person.

  • Thank the students for their involvement.

  • Learn about the service-learning class’ learning goals and where the experience with your organization fits in.

  • Offer to the service-learning class as part of the pre-service analysis, preparation, and orientation.

See the Organization Orientation Checklist tab below for more ideas.

ICCE can help you meet and develop relationships with faculty to build collaborations.

Tips & Guidelines for Working with Our Students

Working with our students can be very rewarding. Our students are always learning and the service-learning experiences allow them to learn by doing, as well as, developing an understanding of community-based work and social responsibility.

You can help them be successful in their service-learning/volunteer placements by:

  • Orienting students to the organization’s missiongoals, and structure.

  • Provide an orientation that includes: site tour; staff introduction; description of risks/safety/emergency procedures associated with Site’s operations and/or clients; information on logging time/sign-in-out.

  • Provide tasks that are significant and/or relevant.

  • Provide students with written descriptions of tasks and responsibilities and appropriate training, materials, and work areas.

  • Ensure a safe work environment and reasonable hours for students to perform service.

  • Meet with the student regularly to provide support, review progress on assigned tasks, verify service hours and give feedback.

  • Know who the faculty are and what courses the students are in.

  • Contact the ICCE if the student fails to perform assigned tasks or engages in misconduct.

  • Notify the ICCE as soon as is reasonably possible of any injury or illness to a student.

Please see the organization Orientation Orientation Checklist tab below for a more detailed list and ideas.

Providing Service-Learning Students with an Orientation

Service-learning students need an orientation including:

  • An introduction to the organization, its Mission Statement as well as a historical background.

  • A tour of the organization (ie. the physical layout)

  • An explanation of the program (goals and objectives).

  • A description of the client base, including numbers of clients served, socio-economic and other demographic data, and political subdivisions served.

  • Community issues the program addresses and why there is a need for the service.

  • A discussion of the students’ role, including specific tasks and specific benefits to the organization, specific importance to the population serviced, and to the community in general.

  • Any specific policies and procedures.

  • Will a background check be needed and how is this completed?

  • An introduction to the staff. Although persons who will be supervising the students should attend, it is important the students be introduced to all organization personnel with whom contact will be made.

  • Exchange contact information and discuss the best way to communicate with the organization and project supervisor.

  • Discuss the amount of supervision the students should expect. Will they see the supervisor daily? Will they be expected to do an amount of work on their own?

  • A handbook or other written materials should be distributed to the service learner during the orientation.

  • Review confidentiality policies. Are pictures or videos allowed?

  • Establishment of a start date for students to begin their service hours.

  • Where do students park when at the organization? Is there a cost associated with parking? Emphasize the student’s responsibility in getting to and from the service site.

  • Discuss risk and safety guidelines.  Training students in safety procedures, potential dangers, and the risk management policies of your organization.

  • Explain what students should do if harassment occurs. Whom do they contact?

  • Review accident procedures at the site and what to do if a student or client is hurt.

  • If appropriate tell the students about yourself and how/why you work with the organization.  Share some of your positive experiences to engage the students and make a personal connection with each of them.

Adapted from Boise State Service-Learning.