Do you know that you can volunteer as part of classroom learning?

Very few students know that you can volunteer as part of classroom learning. This is called Community Service Learning (CSL). More than 2000 students each year are able to gain experience in the community through this program. At the University of Ottawa, CSL courses offer service placement options that are linked to the course's objectives, and require participating students to critically reflect on the connection between their placement experience and the course material. This in turn offers students the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of their field of study, and in some cases, enables them to understand the potential role they can play in effecting change in society (social impact). For each course, the professor sets the learning objectives. Once they have been set, the professor determines how to help students meet them and selects methods to assess what the students have learned. The professor, together with centre staff, determines the reflection questions that students will address. This element can be expanded to fit specific faculty or course requirements. The volunteer placement replaces either a term paper or exam.

We brought to you the experience of two students: 

Laura Lehman, a bachelor’s student majoring in environmental studies (French immersion) and biology, chose to create maps of all the places in Ottawa that offer jobs where French is the first language of work and to categorize them by work sector. She was able to create maps for four different sectors. These maps will not only help new arrivals with their job search, but could also influence where they choose to settle. The maps will be updated each year, to maintain the quality and accuracy of the information World Skills offers its clients. Meanwhile, students working on this CSL placement will now have a better understanding of how a city develops and the impact language can have on its population distribution.

Kaitlyn Bakker, a fourth year student in international development and globalization at the Faculty of Social Sciences, participated in a Community Service Learning (CSL) placement in the Global Citizenship and Learning/Volunteer Abroad course (DVM4154).  While attending one of her classes, Kaitlyn had learned about the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI) work with newcomers. In choosing a CSL placement with CCI, Kaitlyn found a fun learning experience. Her placement, which focused on helping immigrant families adjust to their new communities, involved helping a family learn how to skate. “Working with CCI has given me a lot of experience in a multicultural setting, sometimes with significant language barriers. I’ve have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the barriers and challenges that newcomers to Canada face, whether it’s language, employment, integration or legal status,” says Kaitlyn.

Both students will add their volunteer work experience, along with their placement supervisors as references, to their resume, which will set them apart from the crowd once they enter the workforce.

If you want more information on the CSL program, visit our website or the Centre at Tabaret Hall 304. The list of courses offering CSL is on the CSL webpage and is updated regularly.

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