MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
A Guide for Supervisors
Iowa Wesleyan College
For more than forty years, Iowa Wesleyan College’s students and alumni have been actively engaged in service and academic reflection in Southeast Iowa and around the world, making our Center one of the oldest service-learning and civic engagement programs in the country. In 1968, Iowa Wesleyan College developed the concept of Responsible Social Involvement (RSI) chiefly as the college’s response to the then-prevalent outburst of student-led social activism. Since this program’s inception, more than 6,200 students have served over 1 million hours. There are only a few select colleges and universities around the United States who are able to report 100% student participation in service-learning since the 1960s. In the spring of 2009, RSI was renamed The Center for Service-Learning & Civic Engagement (SL) to more accurately reflect the evolution of our program across academic disciplines and community initiatives. The main objective of this program is to provide students an opportunity to express their values and ideals for social action within a context of directed and course-based learning. At Iowa Wesleyan, our students are achieving more than just academic success; they are becoming servant-leaders in our global community.
As director of The Center for Service-Learning & Civic Engagement, I appreciate your willingness to serve as a supervisor. SL students frequently find themselves in very unfamiliar situations, and they do make mistakes. The duties of supervising can therefore – on occasion – make more work than one bargained for, but I hope you will find our student intelligent, enthusiastic, and helpful.
By now the student has contacted you to establish his or her service project. I expect the student to work under your direction because you know best how to involve the student in your program. I also expect the student to respond to your expressed expectations and guidance. If this does not happen, please let me know right away!
The student will likely need some orientation. I assume you or someone you designate will provide this.
Most students respond best when the project provides them with enough structure to make a good beginning.
The student needs to know to whom he or she should report, especially when questions or problems arise.
Students often develop ideas for their projects. If these can be incorporated, I hope you will encourage their inclusion. Under no circumstances are you expected to allow students to carry out their own agendas if this is likely to undermine your group’s program.
An SL student should not be used as “free labor” in the sense that the student displaces a paid employee. This experience has to be mutually beneficial for both parties. We ask site supervisors to assign a very limited amount of office work (data entry, typing, filing, etc.). We want the student to be out in the community working on programs, initiatives, and promoting a vehicle for systemic change.
To complete a project, the student will notify you of the amount of hours they will have to fulfill before beginning. It is most beneficial if you and student work out an agreement about the time to serve.
Many of our students establish long-term projects at which they work several hours each day or each week. Hours are a little harder to keep track of by this method, but students are expected to be reliable in keeping records of their hours. If a student perpetually misses the times you both agreed upon, please contact me immediately so I can contact the individual.
As the conclusion of their experience, student should have kept a personal journal to assist them with completing the Reflective Analysis Worksheet. I ask that you encourage this journaling, since it usually helps the student think more clearly about his or her project, clients, staff, personal relationships, and the like. Students later draw from this information and reflection when they are composing their SL documentation.
When the student informs me that the project has been completed, our Center will send you an online link via email for you to complete the student evaluation form. This form can also be found online via the IWC website under “Service-Learning & Civic Engagement.” As a matter of policy, these evaluations are treated as confidential communications between the project supervisor and the SL program director. If you would prefer a hard copy of the evaluation to be sent to you, please notify our Center and we will place one in the mail.
I sincerely hope this information helps you in your role as supervisor. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need additional information or if an issue should arise.
All the best,
Jerry Parker, Director
The Center for Service-Learning & Civic Engagement