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Trouble with commitment

We have a student group on campus that does a lot for the community. Unfortunately, many times it is very difficult to get the students to follow through with their ideas. Also, we will have a large group of students sign up for an event and then they don't really commit. Do you have any suggestions for getting students to commit to their adopted causes?

Hi Nancy.

What worked for us was to include a service-learning event/activity into our curriculum. By having the reflective journal as part of the student's grade, we were able to both get participation and to increase awarenes of the benefits from participating in such an activity.

Trent Bartholomew


Do you have a portfolio assignment connected to the course? In my particular setting, each course has a portfolio assignment that is worth 25% of the total grade. Using a service learning opportunities to help student connect classroom learning with real-life opportunities would demonstrate their knowledge and help them make connections vital for a successful career. Each member of the group is graded for contributions, complete writing assignments and collaboratively builds a presentation that showcases the project and their contributions. The service learning project and presentation would represent 25% of their total grade. Students cannot afford to lose 25% of their total score because they choose not to participate; therefore, motivation is higher.

Also having them work in groups for the Service learning projects and activities helps with accountability, commitment and as well as in learning. They schedule to attend the activity(ies) in groups or with a partner. The project would have to have a reflection from each of them individually and then maybe a group actitity so they would get a grade for each.

Hi Nancy:

I too have had a brief assignment attached to service learning that the students drive the who,what, where, when why and we discuss in class. That way they are invested.

I attach points/and a grade and also have them reflect on it in a short paragraph as part of the overall course reflection paper.

This makes it easy to do and they usually do it, since it is required and has a grade attached and they helped to come up with the idea in the first place. Diane

To ensure that students commit to their adopted causes, ascertain their motivation for adopting the cause and what they aspire to achieve from the experience. Ascertain if the students would like to work administratively, engage in research, or work directly with the public. Ensure that students have the background knowledge, supplies, and skills to assure the success of students’ endeavors. Correlate community involvement with students’ academic and professional goals.

hi nancy, it has alot to do with this generation.
they prefer every thing done by phone or ipod.
it is very hard to get the horse to the water and make it waht i have done is to make it rewarding for them to go to a event. bye asking them to bring me photos and a menu with the chefs signature and it would be worth a quizz grade for them and it seems to help them to get to the event.

Like everything in life commitment is very important and the saying that "your word is your bond" means a lot, so before I ask any students to volunteer for any off campus events, I choose the students who have a proven track record of doing these events and pair them up with a new member that has volunteered, that way the new member feel obligated to follow through on their commitment to attend the event, not only for the event, but also for their peer. With this in mind I re-iterate the importance of the above noted phrase, and keep them committed to their word and how valuable that is to those involved.

What have helped me in the past is that excitments tends to run out by the time of the event due to lack of communication or schedule conflict. It's important to mark those special days with special rewards. Always reward your self big when the commitment is follow through. The out come always tends to be very satisfying.

A good "carrot" approach is to give student s letter or certificate of volunteer hours they can put in their portfolio.

This is a great idea.

Thank you.

Trent Bartholomew

We have had the same issues come up with our massage students going out into the community to do chair massage at special events. A lot sign up but then dont show. We have explained to them that backing out of a commitment does not show good work ethic or professionalism. We have offered special credit to those that do go, as well as issuing those that choose to stay behind, tedious tasks that might not be as enjoyable as just going on the trip. This has helped somewhat and has lowered the percentage of people backing out lastminute.


I can relate to your dilemma. I teach in a nursing program, and we've offered the students many service learning opportunities in the community. Some students are always reliable; others simply don't show up.

As an incentive and reward, we not only provide lunch (I know this sounds silly but it's surprisingly persuasive), and we tell them that they can list this a part of their professional experience on their resume.

When they go and interview for their first nursing job, they can show a commitment to their community and an ability to work well as part of a healthcare team.

In the competitive job market where I live, every extra skill is an advantage.

I agree. I will give a pass on quiz if they do something that contributes to society. Like the other term we had a blood drive and I allowed those that were donating to have a pass on their quiz for the day.

We volunteer at various events in our community and many students sign up but few show up. I understand the idea of tying the event to a homework assignment, but I want them to see the value and the commitment of volunteering. I think so often we as a society expect something in return when we do anything, even volunteering. I would like to see a way to encourage them to understand that when they sign up, they are committing themselves to the event and their community.

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