Frequently Asked Questions About the S Designation

At UGA, we don't have a university requirement in terms of the number of hours of service to be considered service-learning. More important is that the service activities are carefully selected in light of the course learning objectives-- quantity is less the focus than quality of the service activity and its fit with the content. In fact, our research on student outcomes shows that, while there is a small impact from greater number of hours of service, other best practices like the amount and quality of critical reflection are much more impactful on student learning than the time spent.

Likewise, because some service-learning courses engage students with projects or deliverables (such as a website, a community garden, a grant application, or a curriculum) for the community partner, rather than a placement (like one afternoon per week or 15 tutoring sessions per semester), it's not always easy or appropriate to set a number of "hours." However, in the non-traditional format field section in CAPA, faculty members should offer their best estimate of the amount of service-learning incorporated into the course.

Presently, courses are limited to just one suffix (e.g., "H" for honors; "E" for online; "W" for writing-intensive, etc.). In a few situations, courses that incorporate academic service-learning may also be appropriate to designate as honors, online, writing-intensive, or other suffixes. In this case, one strategy is to include the phrase "service-learning" in the course title even if not in the suffix; or vice versa. Please contact Curriculum Systems for recommendations and guidance. A service-learning course that isn't S-suffixed can sometimes also be "tagged" in Banner as service-learning schedule type, as well.

Yes; however, once a course has been submitted in CAPA for S-designation, even if it has not made its way through the entire CAPA approval process, a provisional request may be made via the Dean's office to Curriculum Systems, for the course to be offered the following semester with an S, while awaiting the full review.

CAPA deadlines can be found online at:

https://www.capa.uga.edu/Capa/CapaDeadlines.html

  1. Have the Department Course Initiator login to CAPA at https://www.capa.uga.edu
  2. Select “Begin a New Course Proposal” to create a new course with service-learning, or “Begin a Course Change Proposal” to add an S suffix to an existing course. You can have both an S and non-S version of a course, so the option selected will depend on the department’s needs.  Please contact the Office of Service-Learning at 706-542-8924 if you have questions.
  3. Fill out the course ID and number, and select the “Service-Learning Course (S)” radio button to indicate this will be an S-designated course:

4.   Make sure to click on the “Service-Learning Course (S)” underlined link and copy the appropriate text on the estimated degree of service-learning. This will be pasted into the Non-Traditional Format field on the next screen. Click to proceed.

5.   Fill out requested information and paste the degree of service-learning copied on previous screen into the Non-Traditional Format field. Include any additional course-specific information in this field along with this boilerplate text:

6. Make sure to include evidence of service-learning in the Course Objectives and/or Topical Outline section of the course approval form. Refer to the service-learning best practices handout for more information!

When creating a new course proposal or a course change, you will select the Service-Learning S designation radio button on the first screen. Clicking on the Service-Learning Course (S) link will bring up a pop-up window with instructions and text that can be cut and pasted into the Non-Traditional Format field on the “level” or “degree” of service-learning.

You will be asked to determine the “degree” of service-learning in the course based on a four-degree scale listed below. Please paste the appropriate text into the Non-Traditional Format field.  Other information customized to the course may also be included.

Cut and paste one of these degrees into the Non-Traditional Format field in the CAPA process.

  1.     Course includes a service-learning project during the semester that either employs skills or knowledge learned in the course or teaches new skills or knowledge related to course objectives. Student engagement in the service-learning component will be up to 25% of overall instruction time.
  2.     Course includes a service-learning project during the semester that either employs skills or knowledge learned in the course or teaches new skills or knowledge related to course objectives. Students will be involved in the planning and implementation of the project(s) and may spend time outside of the classroom. Students will be engaged in the service-learning component for approximately 25-50% of overall instructional time.
  3.     Course includes a service-learning project during the semester that either employs skills or knowledge learned in the course or teaches new skills or knowledge related to course objectives. Students will be involved in the planning and implementation of the project(s) and may spend time outside of the classroom. Students will be engaged in the service-learning component for approximately 50-75% of overall instructional time.
  4.     Course includes a service-learning project during the semester that either employs skills or knowledge learned in the course or teaches new skills or knowledge related to course objectives. The course uses service-learning as the primary pedagogical tool for teaching course objectives. Students will work on a comprehensive project(s) and may be required to send considerable time outside the classroom. Students will be engaged in the service-learning component for approximately 75-100% of overall instructional time.

Yes. There can be both an S and non-S version of the same course (e.g. ENGL1101 and ENGL1101S).  This gives departments and instructors the choice of which version(s) of the course to offer in a given semester depending on departmental needs. This is similar to offering an Honors and non-Honors section of a course.

In some cases, it may not make sense to have both versions-- for instance, a class which is always service-learning should do a course-change application in CAPA to include the S, rather than a new course proposal leaving the original as well.

S designated courses must include a statement on the degree of service-learning in the Non-Traditional Format field of the CAPA system, and must provide evidence of service-learning implementation in the Course Objectives and/or Topical Outline section of the course approval form.

S designated courses go through the standard course approval process, however, the Office of Service-Learning is available for consultation or support during any stage of the process:

  1. The faculty member or Department Course Initiator enters a New Course Proposal or a Course Change Proposal.
  2. Proposals are reviewed and approved by departments and sent on for college/school approval.
  3. Proposals with an S designation are sent to the Office of Service-Learning for comments and feedback.
  4. After any suggested changes are made, proposals are sent to the University Curriculum Committee for approval.
  5. Please note that this process can take some time and that there are course application deadlines you must meet in order to have courses approved by certain academic semesters. CAPA deadlines can be found online at:https://www.capa.uga.edu/Capa/CapaDeadlines.html
  6. There is also a process for requesting a temporary, one-semester approval for an S course to be designated/offered for the upcoming semester, if the CAPA process has been initiated but not finalized in time. Check with Curriculum Systems of the Office of Service-Learning for more about this option.

This course designation has many benefits for students, faculty, and the university community:

  • It appears on student transcripts to document academic service-learning and community-based experiences, and will provide standardized language for service-learning course expectations in the UGA Bulletin.
  • For many schools and colleges, courses with the S-suffix are automatically approved as fulfilling the university's Experiential Learning requirement.
  • S-designated courses will be included in the new Experiential Learning Transcript without additional steps necessary.
  • It helps the Office of Service-Learning track the prevalence of such courses and provide specialized support to instructors, such as access to service-learning assessment tools and faculty development opportunities.
  • It allows faculty to document their time spent teaching service-learning courses.
  • There can be both a service-learning and non-service-learning section of the same course (e.g. HORT 2000 and HORT 2000S), and the individual department and instructor may decide which version(s) to offer in a given semester.