Training to Develop Skill Areas

Student volunteer leaders may not have every skill necessary for planning a project and leading other students in service. You can help them identify the skills they do have and determine the skills that they need to develop. Some of the skills that student volunteer leaders can build through service include:

Skill AreaSVL Skill Applications
Volunteer Skills and Applications
Budgeting and Resource Management
  • Fundraising and solicitation
  • Creating and working within a budget
  • Corresponding with community agencies and partners
  • Communicating service goals and tasks to volunteers
Cultural Competence
  • Volunteering with people of different cultures
  • Engaging with new populations in the community
  • Identifying key project tasks
  • Determining leaders for specific tasks
Managing People
  • Managing volunteers during a service activity
  • Coordinating an event
Marketing and Recruitment
  • Marketing service opportunities throughout the campus
  • Recruiting new volunteers
Motivating Others
  • Keeping volunteers engaged in the service community
  • Helping volunteers to connect to a community issue
  • Developing a project scope of work
  • Creating a project timeline
  • Leading a volunteer orientation
  • Facilitating a service-learning and reflection activity
Problem Solving
  • Troubleshooting during a service activity
  • Developing contingency plans for projects

Once you and your student volunteers have identified the skills you would like to develop during their service experience, you can design appropriate training sessions. Training topics should include relevant skill areas, such as project development, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and project management. Before undertaking a training series, be sure you have the time and energy to give the SVLs what they may need. Be careful not to promise more than you can deliver as a point person or organization.

Take time to carefully plan how you will train. Don’t just present information; help students connect it to other areas and determine how it will be useful or how they will apply it. Consider structuring your training around the Experiential Learning Cycle.

The Experiential Learning Cycle

  • Experience – This step sets the stage for the rest of the cycle. Offer content and activities that will produce information or understanding.
  • Describe – Encourage SVLs to share their experiences with the group. They can discuss what happened and their impressions of the experience.
  • Interpret – Provide opportunities for SVLs to express their reactions to the experience. Help them to go beyond simply observing what happened to looking for the reasons why.
  • Generalize – Ask SVLs to link the experience to the real world. Work with the group to determine if the experience was unique or if it happens in other situations.
  • Apply – Enhance learning retention by allowing space for SVLs to reflect on the lessons they have learned and to share those lessons with others.

Additionally, plan for how you can make your sessions applicable, interesting, and inclusive for all SVLs. Appreciate the diversity represented by the students. In particular, structure your sessions with a variety of teaching methods that will appeal to visual, auditory, and tactile (kinesthetic) learners.