Location

Green and Gold Room

Event Website

http://uenr.warnercnr.colostate.edu/

Start Date

23-3-2012 2:00 PM

End Date

23-3-2012 2:30 PM

Description

One strategy for a service-learning course is basically to push the students off of a cliff, dangle a rope, and hope they can not only find the rope, but also climb back up. This generally means getting students out there as quickly as possible, equipping them with some basic tools and knowledge to make sense of their experience along the way, and seeing if they can put it all together. A different strategy at the other end of the spectrum involves holding the students’ hands throughout the process – that is, being present when they are out in the real world, providing a safety net for their mistakes, and guiding them directly on each step of the way throughout the process. A middle-of-the-road (and perhaps ideal) approach involves a different sequence: carefully equipping students with extensive knowledge, tools, and theory, then sending them out into the real world to employ those tools and reflect on the experience. This middle way, however, is difficult to condense into a single semester if students are expected to be providing service to the community in the same time period. This presentation will reflect upon two service learning courses that have experimented with this spectrum over the past six years, focusing on the benefits and disadvantages of these approaches to service learning from three perspectives: (1) impacts on the students; (2) impacts on the recipients of students’ service; and (3) the time and effort required by the instructor. Survey research with students over five years reflects that different strategies can be successful at meeting course goals and other outcomes commonly sought in service learning courses (self-confidence, self-reflection, and thinking about the future). A shift from the dangle-the-rope strategy toward a modified version of the middle-of-the-road strategy, however, increased the efficiency of the course and the quality of the experience for participating community members. Lessons will also be shared regarding managing multiple projects within a single class.

Comments

Citation: Stern MJ. 2012. The Cliff, the Rope and the Safety Net: Teaching Through Service Learning. UENR 9th Biennial Conference. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/9thBiennial/Sessions/12/

 
Mar 23rd, 2:00 PM Mar 23rd, 2:30 PM

The Cliff, the Rope and the Safety Net: Teaching Through Service Learning

Green and Gold Room

One strategy for a service-learning course is basically to push the students off of a cliff, dangle a rope, and hope they can not only find the rope, but also climb back up. This generally means getting students out there as quickly as possible, equipping them with some basic tools and knowledge to make sense of their experience along the way, and seeing if they can put it all together. A different strategy at the other end of the spectrum involves holding the students’ hands throughout the process – that is, being present when they are out in the real world, providing a safety net for their mistakes, and guiding them directly on each step of the way throughout the process. A middle-of-the-road (and perhaps ideal) approach involves a different sequence: carefully equipping students with extensive knowledge, tools, and theory, then sending them out into the real world to employ those tools and reflect on the experience. This middle way, however, is difficult to condense into a single semester if students are expected to be providing service to the community in the same time period. This presentation will reflect upon two service learning courses that have experimented with this spectrum over the past six years, focusing on the benefits and disadvantages of these approaches to service learning from three perspectives: (1) impacts on the students; (2) impacts on the recipients of students’ service; and (3) the time and effort required by the instructor. Survey research with students over five years reflects that different strategies can be successful at meeting course goals and other outcomes commonly sought in service learning courses (self-confidence, self-reflection, and thinking about the future). A shift from the dangle-the-rope strategy toward a modified version of the middle-of-the-road strategy, however, increased the efficiency of the course and the quality of the experience for participating community members. Lessons will also be shared regarding managing multiple projects within a single class.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/9thBiennial/Sessions/12