Student organizations have a great opportunity to engage in service in an impactful and meaningful way during their time at The University of Alabama. The Center for Service and Leadership is committed to supporting students in service. This page is a resource to help all student organizations get involved in service.

Six Steps for Super Service

Community Voice is essential is we are to build bridges, make changes, or solve problems. Community agencies should define their needs and the student service organizations should assess their skills, resources, and capabilities to ensure that those needs are included in the development of their service programs.

How to find Community Voice:

  • Assess community needs by asking local agencies or neighborhood groups what the needs and challenges are for their community.
  • Realize the project you would like to do may not be what the community needs – be flexible.
  • Be flexible but organized about the project structure.
  • Make plans for the project to continue after students leave or graduate.

Orientation and education are important first steps that help volunteers to see the bigger picture and relate their experience to larger solutions. Information should be provided for student volunteers about the social issue at the heart of the service and about the community agency. Orientation materials for all new volunteers can include the who, what, when, where, and how of the volunteer experience and answers to frequently asked questions. Educational seminars, workshops, and speakers, or a welcome by community agency can help to orient and educate students for the actual community service experience.

How to Educate and Orient:

  • Education: gives volunteers a better understanding the impact their actions have.
    • List relevant facts about the issue that will be the focus of your service.
    • Watch a movie pertaining to the social issue you will interact with during your service.
    • Have volunteers bring an article about the issue and share what it means to them. Throughout the project, collect articles relating to the issue and make the material available to volunteers.
  • Orientation: makes sure everyone has clear information before the service project.
    • Notify volunteers, via meeting or e-mail, of the who, what, where, when and how of the project.
    • Ensure that each volunteer understands his/her role, the big picture of the project and its effects.

Preflection is a tool that helps to make service experiences more enlightening and personally meaningful. Instead of waiting for moments of enlightenment and understanding to simply happen, preflection prepares students to seek out these “aha” moments. By utilizing preflection, students help themselves to be more sensitive to illuminating thoughts and moments of clarity. Group preflection can be easily done in a vehicle en route to a service activity.

How to facilitate Preflection:

  • Have volunteers identify what they hope to learn from the service experience.
  • Have volunteers identify what skills they hope to gain or strengthen through the service experience.
  • Have volunteers identify what impact they hope to have on the social issue.
  • Have volunteers bring an article about the issue and share what it means to them. Throughout the project, collect articles relating to the issue and make the material available to volunteers.
  • Discuss questions in a group such as “Have you ever had someone do service for you? If so, how did that make you feel? How can we be sensitive and respectful in the way that we serve others?”
  • Have volunteers write what they hope to learn or accomplish on an index card and share their thoughts with the group as they feel comfortable.

Thoughtful action is important because the goal is for the service to be valuable and meaningful to both the students and the community agencies. Thoughtful action builds a positive relationship between the students, the staff from the community agency, and the clients being served.

How to facilitate Thoughtful Action:

  • Communicate thoroughly and clearly with the people you are serving – develop an itinerary of the service activity that lists who is responsible for what, and when it will be done.
  • Make sure your organization members understand:
    • The purpose / goal of the service activity
    • Their role / responsibilities with the service project
    • Where & when to meet; what to wear; what to bring
  • Provide for all logistics (travel, safety, equipment, restrooms, water, first aid, etc.)
  • Consult with a Center for Service and Leadership staff member for ideas, feedback, or general assistance.
  • Make sure that you have included all 6 steps for super service. This will help to ensure that both your organization and those you are serving will have an outstanding experience.

Reflection is a crucial component of the group service experience and should happen immediately after the service. Reactions, stories, feelings, and facts about the experience may validate feelings and bring the group together. Reflection helps to place the experience into a broader context. Open sharing and group discussion are some of the strongest reflective tools.  Note: It is important to establish with the group that reflection means open sharing, not debating. Group reflection should be done in an open, accepting environment

How to facilitate Reflection:

  • Group discussion is probably the best form of reflection, because volunteers learn not only from their own experience but also from others.
  • Questions can be asked to facilitate group share and/or spark group discussion:
    • Why are we doing this service?
    • What have we learned or gained?
    • Is it helping, and how?
  • Individual reflection with a journal can be very meaningful to an individual, and leave them with a tangible reminder of their experience.
  • One of the simplest, most effective reflection models to use is the “What? So What? Now What?” model.
    • What was your experience? What stuck out / impacted you?
    • So, what did that mean to you? What did you learn? How do you feel?
    • Now, what will you do about it? How will you apply this to your life?

Evaluation provides direction for improvement, growth, and change. Evaluation by volunteers measures the impact of their service and learning experience. Evaluation by community agencies measures the effectiveness of the service done for them.

How to Evaluate: The most effective and efficient evaluation is brief and written by volunteers immediately at the conclusion of their project. This data can then be compiled and shared with both service leaders and community agencies and passed on for improvement of future events.

    • Using a Likert scale, ask volunteers to rate (i.e. from 1 to 5; 1 = low, 5 = high):
      • Their satisfaction with the service experience
      • Their learning from the service experience
      • The level to which they feel that they helped to fulfill a community need
      • The effective flow of logistics for the service activity
      • Or other feedback statements
    • Ask open-ended questions about what volunteers most liked and disliked about their experience, what they would keep the same, and what changes they would recommend.

How Can Student Organizations Get Involved?

Sign Up for Service Opportunities

BamaPulse is The University of Alabama’s community engagement platform allows students to find volunteer opportunities and record volunteer service hours and impacts. Your student organization can find and connect with local non-profits and sign up for existing service opportunities. Log in to BamaPulse using your myBama username and password. For further assistance, feel free to contact the Center for Service and Leadership.

Plan a Service Project

Many organizations would like to plan a service project or event with a local community partner. BamaPulse can be a great resource to find and connect with local community partners to begin planning a service project.  If your organization would like additional support from the Center for Service and Leadership in planning a service project or event, student organizations can request support on a service project.

Educate Members About Service and Leadership

The Center for Service and Leadership is committed to offering ongoing education and training to student organizations on campus about service and leadership. We are available to come to your student organization and offer training on navigating and utilizing BamaPulse. Student organizations can request someone from the Center for Service and Leadership to come speak to your group.