About 1,630 uOttawa students participated in the Community Service Learning (CSL) Program in 2012-2013. This is a drop from previous years, as indicated in Figure 1. The number of front-line staff has since been adjusted, and the Centre’s capacity is back to between 2,000 and 2,500 CSL placements. All positions are now staffed, including the position of manager, community engagement. The front-line team is also responsible for posting and promoting extracurricular volunteering opportunities and printing student co-curricular records. Next academic year, we plan to roll out customer survey questionnaires to gather feedback from students, professors and community partners, as part of our ongoing quality improvement efforts. The Centre is still currently working on improving the functionality of the Community Engagement Navigator together with our IT department.
Number of courses
There were 90 courses registered in the CSL program in 2012-2013, including two courses for the Spring and Summer sessions. In the fall of 2012, the Faculty of Medicine began offering all first-year medicine students a community service learning opportunity as part of their first-year training. Feedback collected from students, staff and community partners helped us summarize lessons learned from this first year, together with the Faculty of Medicine staff, and adjustments are being made for the next academic year. We thank all our partners for their support during this pilot year with students from the Faculty of Medicine.
Figure 2 – Number of courses, per faculty for 2012-2013 academic year
As noted in Figure 2, the faculty with the highest percentage of courses registered in the CSL program this year was the Faculty of Arts followed by the Faculty of Social Sciences. However, when taking into account the number of students registered in the CSL program, there is very little difference between the two faculties (Figure 3). This phenomenon is due to the large size of the Faculty of Social Sciences classes registered in the program (e.g. social work, international studies), compared with Faculty of Arts class sizes.
Figure 3 – Number of students registered in the CSL program, per faculty, 2012-2013
As shown in Figure 4, close to 60% of the courses registered in the CSL program are second- or third-year courses.
Figure 4 – Number of courses registered in CSL Program, per year of study, 2012- 2013
Number of placements
A total of 1,627 students were registered in a CSL placement during the academic year. An average of 71% of CSL placements offered by the Centre were filled by students during the entire academic year. Some students proposed alternate placements. Placements not selected by students as part of CSL were usually offered as extracurricular volunteering opportunities.
Students opting for a CSL placement in their classroom have the opportunity to develop their skills, enhance their abilities and make the link between theory and practice, all while contributing to their community. We love when Community partners provide feedback on students’ work. As part of professor Milena Parent’s Winter 2013 Management of Sporting Events and Festivals course (APA 3113), some students worked with Special Olympics Ottawa. Mike Pitre, community coordinator, had this to say about his group of students:
“These students were a pleasure to work with. They were valuable members of my team. They were diligent in reporting their activities to our secretary, who updated our progress. They were also prompt in attending our progress meetings and communicated the results of their tasks clearly. It was evident they did a lot of legwork to solicit support for our golf event. The results exceeded our expectations and will contribute greatly to our success—all due to their hard work. The students performed their tasks with a minimum of direction and were enthusiastic the entire time. Clearly they understood and supported our goal to provide the best sport programs possible for individuals with special needs in Ottawa. They contributed to the planning discussions providing ideas and observations. All in all a great experience and I will keep this program in mind for next year’s event.”
We thank all our community partners who hosted uOttawa students during the year and look forward to working with them again during the new academic year. Our community partners offer important opportunities for our students to gain valuable experience. We hope that our partners found the students’ contributions helpful as they carried out their mission and that our students learned more about their communities and the role they can play. We encourage all program participants to share their views with us on how we can make the program even better.