Presenter Information

Marc J. Stern, Virginia Tech

Location

Cheatham 317

Event Website

http://www.cpe.vt.edu/cuenr/index.html

Start Date

27-3-2010 1:30 PM

End Date

27-3-2010 2:00 PM

Description

The presentation will reflect on the results of evaluations of a service learning course in environmental education in which students developed and delivered afterschool environmental education programs at local elementary schools. 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 their 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 service learning class has moved from the dangle‐the‐rope strategy toward a modified version of the middle‐of‐the road strategy over its four years of existence. This presentation will focus 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. Evaluations reflect that while the shift increased students’ comfort levels in the course, both strategies were largely successful at meeting course goals and other outcomes commonly sought in service learning courses (self‐confidence, self‐reflection, and thinking about the future). The shift, however, also increased the efficiency of the course and the quality of the experience for participating schools.

Comments

Citation: Stern, M.J. 2010. Teaching environmental communications through service learning. UENR Biennial Conference, Session Making it Real - Service, Learning, and Internships, Paper Number 6. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/Sessions/Service/6/.

 
Mar 27th, 1:30 PM Mar 27th, 2:00 PM

Teaching Environmental Communications Through Service Learning

Cheatham 317

The presentation will reflect on the results of evaluations of a service learning course in environmental education in which students developed and delivered afterschool environmental education programs at local elementary schools. 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 their 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 service learning class has moved from the dangle‐the‐rope strategy toward a modified version of the middle‐of‐the road strategy over its four years of existence. This presentation will focus 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. Evaluations reflect that while the shift increased students’ comfort levels in the course, both strategies were largely successful at meeting course goals and other outcomes commonly sought in service learning courses (self‐confidence, self‐reflection, and thinking about the future). The shift, however, also increased the efficiency of the course and the quality of the experience for participating schools.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/Sessions/Service/6