Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Community Engagement?

According to Ehrlich (2000) “Community Engagement means working to make a difference in our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivations to make that difference.” - Return to top.


What is Academic Community Engagement (ACE)?

It is a teaching method (pedagogy) that combines community engagement with academic instruction - Return to top.


Who can I talk to about ACEing my courses?

Every college has a representative that is a member of the Engaged Scholars Committee. Currently, members of the committee include: Victoria Titterington (CJ); Barbara Greybeck (COE); Sanjay S. Mehta (COBA); Lee Miller (CHSS);Michael Henderson(CFAMC); and Li-Jen Shannon (COS). - Return to top.


What are the requirements for ACEing a course?

An ACE course must include:

  • Documented hours of the community engagement (at least three hours per semester hour)
  • Feedback from the community partner(s). This can be written or verbal
  • Statements in the syllabus about community engagement:

    § The value of community engagement

    § How it is linked to a course objective and part of a grade

    § A written reflection about the experience.

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What exactly are the expectations for the “written reflection” that’s required as part of ACE course requirements?

The details of what constitutes a reflection by the student are completely up to the instructor of the ACE course. The only requirement is that the reflection makes the student to think deeply about the service experience. Samples of these written reflections can be found on the ACE website. - Return to top.


Why should I ACE my courses?

According to the National Survey for Students Engagement Annual Report (2002), “Community Engagement provides students with opportunities to synthesize, integrate and apply their knowledge. Such experience makes learning more meaningful, and ultimately more useful because what students know becomes part of who they are.” - Return to top.

What are some of the benefits for my students taking an ACE course?

According to Astin, Sax, Ikeda, and Yee (2000), Academic Community Engagement enhances academic performance and has shown to have a significant positive effect on GPA, writing skills, critical thinking skills, and a commitment to community service, self efficacy and leadership ability. Additional benefits include:

  • Working with non-profits, community organizations, or schools is looked upon favorably by future employers
  • ACE courses will be visible on their co-curriculum transcript
  • Students generally feel good about themselves when they help others

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What support can I find to assist me in ACEing my courses?

SHSU has several entities on campus that can help you. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Each College has an Engaged Scholar member you may contact
  • The Professional Academic Center for Excellence (PACE)
  • American Democracy Project (ADP)
  • Center for Leadership and Service
  • Colleagues who have already taught ACE courses

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I can’t think of a way community service would work in the course that I teach (because of the subject/discipline I teach). Would there be some courses for which community service would NOT work?

Yes! There may be some courses that the connection with the community is hard to see. However, many of our faculty members find that, with help exploring possibilities, they can ACE their course. For the academic year 2013, we have approximately 174 courses that have receive the ACE designation. Please check the schedule of courses to see who is/are teaching these courses. Talking to these individuals may help you. Additionally, SHSU will hold workshops once a semester to assist you. - Return to top.


Will I be rewarded for teaching ACE courses?

Yes! There are several benefits/rewards to faculty. These include:

  • The current University Faculty Evaluation System (FES) includes community engagement.
  • Information and/or data collected from ACE projects can lead to publication.
  • Only faculty teaching ACE courses are eligible for the “new” David Payne Ace Award (which includes $5,000, a medallion, recognition within the SHSU community).
  • “Free” polo shirt and banner for your office.
  • A letter for your tenure and promotion file.
  • Be eligible to join the ACE Research Program.

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Will I be penalized for not teaching an ACE course?

No! While teaching an ACE course is being encouraged by the administration, it is not being required for tenure, promotion, merit, etc. - Return to top.

I am concerned about the legal liabilities with having my students being involved with the community?

We have consulted with the SHSU Lawyer. Course instructors are not liable. Additionally, we have 2 forms on the website that can be used (one for students and one for the community partner), if you seek additional protection. - Return to top.


How can I apply for ACE Designation?

Here are the steps that you need to follow:

  • Online Application for ACE Designation are available at http://www.shsu.edu/academics/ace/faculty.html
  • Once you complete the short application, simply attach your tentative syllabus for the course. Please try to highlight the information (in your syllabus) asked for in the application
  • Please make sure you obtain your Department Chair’s approval
  • Simply submit

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Are there any restrictions as to the types/kinds of projects my students can do?

No! As long as they are tied in to your course objectives. - Return to top.


Does teaching an ACE course fulfill a political agenda?

No! ACE is a faculty driven initiative. - Return to top.


We have doctoral students who teach multiple sections of the same course. Since they are not regular faculty members, how can they ACE their courses?

Please ask the coordinator of the course (a faculty member) to complete an application and submit the names of the doctoral students who will be teaching each section. - Return to top.


Who do we designate as the ACE instructor if the course is a team taught course?

The registration listed instructor should be the “lead” instructor to submit the ACE application. - Return to top.


What if a student who has signed up for an ACE course cannot (due to a physically disability) complete the required work with my identified community partner?

Accommodations may be necessary for a legitimate reason, so it is recommended that an alternative assignment be given that still keeps the spirit and intent of engagement with a community partner. Perhaps the student may be expected to weigh in on ideas for these alternative assignments. - Return to top.


What if a student who has signed up for an ACE course does not want to engage with the community?

All students in your ACE class will automatically be given credit on their transcripts for community engagement. If they signed up for your class, they knew ahead of time that there was an expectation to be engaged in the community. If they fail to fulfill that requirement, they will not get credit for the course. Of course, this must be clearly stated in your syllabus. - Return to top.

Do all the required hours for “community engagement” need to be working with people in some capacity?

NO! Service to community partners can take many forms. For example, one psychology class created pamphlets to place in doctors’ offices explaining specific issues that were written in “reader friendly” text more appropriate for the reading level of the general public. A Foreign Language class translated important information into a variety of languages so that the text was accessible to all and distributed them to the nonprofit organization. A Mass Communication class created Public Service Announcements for nonprofits. The ideas for community engagement are endless. - Return to top.


Do I have to do any sort of pre and post testing of my students to see the effect of my assignments on their understanding of their duties as citizens?

YES! but only a post-test. All ACE courses have the students take a short survey (which is located on the ACE website) for this very reason. The statistics are then compiled and used as part of the university’s assessment report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). - Return to top.


If I want to teach my ACE course again, do I have to reapply each semester?

NO! Renewal is simple. Just go to the ACE website under FACULTY and click on the RENEW link. It will take you seconds to submit. - Return to top.

How often do I need to renew my ACE application?

An academic year – from September to August. - Return to top.


What are some alternatives for a student who does not want to or cannot be engaged with the community?

When a student sighs-up for an ACE course, they should already know that they will be engaged with the community. If they do not want to be engaged, then they need to sigh-up for a different section. - Return to top.


What if my ACE course is the required course on the student’s degree plan and no one else teaches the course?

There are times when a course is a required course on their degree plan, and no one else teaches this course. Under those circumstances, it may be ok to give students an “opt-out” option. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some “opt-out” options:

  • A student can be asked to conduct an in-depth interview (e.g., director or CEO of a non-for-profit organization)
  • A student may be the one who synthesizes the reports by the class in a document to be distributed to the organization(s)
  • A student may write an article to be submitted to the news media on the work of the class
  • A student can be asked to write a term paper on the topic that has a wider audience than the professor

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I have an independent study student who wants to be engaged with the community. Since I do not have a syllabus, how can I ACE this independent study course?

Under rare circumstances, you can submit an ACE application without a syllabus as long as the faculty member can certify that the students are meeting the requirements for an ACE course. - Return to top.


Can I ACE my online course?

Yes! Many faculty members across the university are teaching on-line ACE courses. - Return to top.

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