Volunteer Experience

February 1, 2001

Course Description:
Beginning experience in a social service setting to acquire skills in relationships building and to develop understanding of social work ethics, values and roles in a diverse society. Focus of seminar meetings is the exploration of self in relationship to helping.

Sophomore standing. Required for social work pre-majors. Completion or concurrent enrollment in Introduction to Social Work and Social Work Institutions, SW230 is desirable.

Objectives: Students will:
(1) become aware of how their personal needs and beliefs may influence a helping
(2) distinguish between being a “friend” and a “helper.”
(3) identify some of the core qualities of an effective helping relationship.
(4) understand and respect the need for confidentiality of people with whom you work
and of the social service agency.
(5) gain a beginning overview of social services offered in the community.
(6) have the opportunity to develop a relationship with someone from a different back
ground or situation (ie., different class, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation).
(7) develop a beginning style in helping that focuses on one’s strengths.
(8) have a beginning understanding of the guidelines in the NASW Code of Ethics.
(9) actively listen and contribute to weekly seminar discussions so as to better
understand one’s relationship to professional helping.
(10) demonstrate use of supervision in the acquisition of helping skills and
procedures as a member of an agency or organization.
(11) identify and interpret social research and other literature to enhance one’s
understanding of human conditions and social services encountered in volunteer

Student Responsibilities:
Students may arrange their own placements at a pre-approved agency. The instructor will actively participate in arranging the placement at the request of the student. A guide to approved placements will be provided by the instructor.

Students are expected to complete at least 60 hours of volunteer time at the selected social service agency and attend a weekly seminar. Students will commit themselves to at least four hours a week on a regularly scheduled basis until their total commitment is fulfilled. More than three absences from the seminar will result in a grade of No Credit and the student will need to repeat the course. In the seminar, participation and respect for others through listening is expected.

Students will hand in ten journal entries of their reflections on field experiences during the previous period. They may be about specific incidents during volunteer hours; observations of staff and their skills, value conflicts and ethical dilemmas and issues discussed in seminar. More importantly, however, is the recording of thoughts and feelings as one interact with clients, staff and peers in various ways with growing awareness of one’s own qualities and evolving interests in helping and in professional social work. Exploring and examining one’s own attitudes, values, desires and aspirations in relation to volunteer experience in the context of seminar discussion is important and valued.

Weekly entries are to include date and time of volunteering, hours for the week, total hours to date, a list of activities, your reflections on them and how these experiences have contributed to your personal or professional development. To insure confidentiality and respect for the privacy of clients and staff, use fictitious names in your journal.

Project: Study of a community problem or issue
Students will define a community problem or issue relates to their field assignment for a seminar presentation. The oral report will include four research sources from any of the following three areas: 1) interviews, 2) literature and/or the performing arts and 3) professional or scientific books or articles. The report will include identification and analysis of ethical dilemmas inherent to the issue.

The oral report may be individual or prepared collectively as a panel with other seminar members. The seminar time allotment including class reactions will be 20 minutes of one student or 10 minutes more for each additional student sharing the project.

The student will submit an outline of the presentation together with an 200 word report for each of the four research sources used.

Students should reserve a seminar time and date for their reports two weeks after receiving their placements.

A final evaluation questionnaire will be completed at the end of the semester or at the conclusion of 60 hours of service by the student’s agency supervisor. It will include an assessment of previously identified personal learning objectives. A sample evaluation form is attached.

Course Grade:
Credit (CR) will be assigned as a grade based upon 1) fulfillment of at least 60 hours of
volunteer time, 2) consistent attendance (85%) and participation in the
seminars, 3) giving an oral seminar presentation, 4) submission of a review of four research sources, to be integrated into your oral presentation 5) submission of the required number of journals, and (6. a satisfactory evaluation from your agency supervisor. Upon receipt of this evaluation, the Faculty Field Instruct will assign a final grade of credit for the coarse at an evaluation conference during finals week.

Volunteer Work:
The following guidelines may help you in your volunteer work:
A) Follow the policies, procedures, and related expectations as defined by the agencysetting. Ask your supervisor if you have any questions or are unclear on a policy orprocedure. Talk with staff in the event of ethical dilemmas.
B) Be sure to clarify your legal and ethical responsibilities, especially in the areas ofmandatory reporting, confidentiality, and liability.
C) Find out any differences between a student volunteer role and a paid staff as it is definedat your particular setting.
D) Trust yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, ask for assistance, clarification, or declinethe opportunity until you have had time to think out the discomfort. Remember this is yourlearning experience. Feel free to use the seminar to process those doubts, feelings, andthoughts before acting or after the activity. Everyone will experience concerns, insecurities,difficulties, and frustrations. What is valued is the openness to explore and process thoseexperiences. Everyone in seminar will benefit from the sharing of satisfying experiences aswell as the disappointments by reflecting together on the different ways support for planning,interacting, and evaluating lead to meaningful experiences.
E) Volunteering is a serious commitment. Recognize the many ways staff and clients cometo expect your presence and look forward to seeing you. Relationships are formed best byregular, consistent presence, along with warmth and vitality.

Volunteer Experience, SW 255 Seminar Discussion Questions.
1) How does being in this class fit in with my larger goals and objectives? What do I want to get out of it? Why is volunteerism a good thing?

2) What is confidentiality? Why is it essential in the helping relationship? What policies and expectations does my agency/organization have about confidentiality? What are my obligations to colleagues? What are my obligations to my classmates in this class?

3) What can I do to develop a positive relationship with my organization/agency in the beginning phases? What can I do to establish a positive working relationship with my supervisor?

4) How is my relationship with my match or agency clients as a helper the same as and/or different than that of a friend?

5) How do my own personal beliefs support or get in the way of helping?

6) What are core qualities in effective helping relationships? What tasks are important in the beginning phases of a helping relationship?
7) What are three things that I want to achieve for myself in this course?

8) What is the mission of my agency? What is the leadership style? Do staff have input into policies and procedures? How are day to day decisions made? Is there a viable in-service training program? Do I feel a valued part of the agency/organization?

9) Have I had the opportunity to develop a relationship with persons different in background or experience than yours? Has mis-information or my biases gotten in the way of helping? What have I learned about our differences? How have I dealt with them? What are our commonalities?

10) What strengths do the persons with whom I work have? How have I been able to capitalize on them in the helping process?

11) What is there in the NASW Code of Ethics that is of importance to my volunteer experience?

12) What have I learned from class discussion? Have I applied any of it to my field work? What are some examples.

13) What am I learning about my strengths and uniquenesses as they constitute my own approach to helping. What are some of my strengths. Some examples of how I draw upon them to create my own helping style are …

14) How have I used supervision and other agency resources to gain knowledge and skills in helping? What are some guidelines for working with supervision?

15) What special insights have I gained about my field experiences through outside reading?

16) How will I terminate my relationships with persons with whom I worked at the end of my service?

Volunteer Experience. SW 255. Agency information

Student’s name
Name of placement agency
Address of agency
Your agency supervisors name
Your job description:

Your learning objectives, at least two, no more than three (can be filled out later, ie., within one month of beginning placement):

1 .

Measurable outcome:


Measurable outcome:


Measurable outcome:

Volunteer Experience. SW 255. Personal Information:
Local address
Local phone number

Social Work Pre-major? Yes No

Class standing

Do you have a car or access to a car? Yes No

Do you have any disabilities or circumstance that might limit the type of assignment that you can take? (if “yes,” explain):

Tentative placement choices (specific agency or type of placement).

1 .



Please see me should you need help in arranging your field placement.
VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE-SW 255 Social Work Department I Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95519 (707) 826-4448 Phone (707) 826-4418 Fax

Approx number of service hours this Semester:_____________________________________

This form is to be completed as the student finishes his/her volunteer project. Preferably, it will be completed in conference with the student.

Student name Student’s job title

Agency Name Supervisor’s telephone number
Supervisor’s name and job title




The students will identify 2 or 3 personal learning objective to supplement the course objectives that are stated in the course syllabi:

Relationships with those that the program serves:
___ Extends him/herself to clients, able establish report, has non-judgmental attitude.
___ Meets expectations with clients. Communicates appropriately. Acquires generally good results.
___ Has some difficulty working with clients.

Additional comments:

Learning agency/program protocols:
___ learned the things he/she needed to know to do a good job quickly.
____ learned the things he/she needed to know after a while.
____ did not learn agency/program protocols effectively.

Additional comments:

Working with supervision and colleagues:
Readily accepts direction and feedback. Respectful and considerate of staff and other volunteers. Willing to “lend a hand” when special needs arise.
____ Accepts supervision and teamwork expectations, but is not very interactive, but basically pulls his/her own weight.
___ Is not very cooperative or considerate of others in the program.

Additional comments:

Student honors client’s privacy and dignity.
___ Student is sometimes indifferent or insensitive to client’s privacy & dignity.

Additional comments:

Exhibits good judgement. Knows when to use own initiative and when to “check things out.”
___ Can be relied upon in most situations, but requires supervision.
___ As her/his supervisor, I have been hesitant to assign the student sensitive tasks as I do not always trust student’s judgement.

Additional comments:

Diversity and difference:
Student has capacity to work with and accept persons different in race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and ability.
__ Student lacks the capacity to work with and accept certain persons who have differences.

Additional Comments:

Attitude/Application to Work:

___ _Enthusiastic/invested.
____Average diligence and interest.
____Not very enthusiastic or invested

Additional comments:

Overall Performance:

__ Outstanding
__ Good
__ Average
__ Needs improvement

Additional comments:

1 . Describe the student’s main volunteer activities this semester.
2. Describe the student’s participation in collateral tasks such as attendance/participation at staff meetings, participating in fund raisers, serving on a committee or task group ETC.

3. Were the student’s personal learning objectives met? (See previous page) Please comment on each.

1 .

4. What do you think are the student’s particular strengths as a helper?
5. What would you say were those areas in which the student was challenged in his/her growth or those areas in which the student could devote particular effort to improving?

6. Other Comments?

Student’s signature Date Supervisor’s signature Date

The following guidelines may help you in volunteering:

1. Follow the policies, procedures, and dress code in the agency/program. Try and read through this material early in your experience. Ask if you have questions or are unclear on some policy. Talk with staff if you have any ethical dilemmas regarding any policies or procedures.

2. Spend time with staff to clarify your legal and ethical responsibilities, especially in the areas of the reporting of abuse, confidentiality and liability (e.g. transporting clients).

3. Find out any differences between being a student volunteer and a paid staff as it is defined in your particular agency.

4. Trust yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, ask for assistance from someone you trust. Talk with your supervisor and other staff about any concerns or insecurities. Remember that this is your learning experience. We can learn from situations that didn’t go as we had planned when we use supervision to better understand our role, the client’s/consumer’s situation, environmental influences, and so on.

Course Content:

1. One’s needs and beliefs as influencing helping relationships: Guided group discussion and “check-in” questions encourage students to discuss their family, peer, cultural and social support systems as having sway in the development of one’s values, biases and world view.

2. Distinguishing between “friend” and “helper.” Guided group discussion and “check-in” questions encourage students to identify qualities in common with positive frinedships and effective helping relationship. In addition, students are asked to compare and contrast issues of reciprocity, ethics, professional priority and agency expectations in friendships and in helping relationship.

3. Core qualities in effective helping relationships: Guided group discussion and “check-in” questions encourage students to identify qualities in effective helping relationships such as honesty, involvement, listening skills, communications skills, joint goal setting, sharing responsibilities, affirmation, evaluation and termination.

4. Confidentiality: Reading and interpretation of confidentiality and privacy references in NASW Code of Ethics including limits of confidentiality. Discussion of confidentiality in written communications. Establishment of guidelines for confidentiality for seminar and a group agreement to practice them.

5. Overview of social services in the community: Students share information about their organizations and agencies during the course of general discussion. The professor often explains or clarifies social policy or program matters relevant to student’s field experiences.

6. Developing a relationship with a person from a different background: As a major emphasis of the course, students are matched to work with persons or groups in the community differing from the student in ethnicity, age, class or ability. Students are encouraged to discuss how their relationships and understanding change perceptions.

7. Helping strategy focused on client’s strengths: Guided group discussion and “check-in” questions encourage students to identify activities that draw upon identified strengths that their “matches” demonstrate. Follow-up reports are done to evaluate their outcomes.
8. Developing a beginning understanding of the NASW Code of Ethics: The instructor provides a brief overview of the Code of Ethics. The Code is referred to in particular with regard to confidentiality and as a guide for the analysis of ethical dilemmas as they are encountered in seminar discussion.

9. Actively listen and participates in seminar discussions to improve one’s own helping style: Students are asked to participate in seminar to share information, to exchange affirmations and constructive criticism and to offer help to one another as each attempts to develop a style of helping consistent with their strengths and special interests.

10. Use of supervision in the acquisition of helping skills and as a member of an agency or organization: Seminar discussion focuses on volunteer behaviors that help in the development of a positive relationship between volunteers and agencies or organizations. These include, but are not limited to promptness, reliability, following through, asking appropriate questions, establishing regular hours and conference times, developing positive working relationships with colleagues, defining expectations,identifying personal learning goals, developing a job description and accepting constructive criticism, etc. Students are helped to know when to use individual initiative and when to “check things out” with supervision. Also discussions of how to prepare for and make optimum use of supervisorial conferences including their final evaluation.

11. Social research and other literature to enhance one’s understanding of human conditions and social services: Students are required to read and report upon four sources of information that have direct applications to their field experience.

12. How social injustice, discrimination and service inequities impacts upon populations-at risk: Students give an oral presentation to the seminar on larger societal issues as they relate to the welfare of clients whom their organization or agency serves. They are challenged to reconcile their outside reading with their own field experiences.

School: Humboldt State University
Professor: Ben Fairless
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