Six HWS community members attended a New York Campus Compact workshop held at Syracuse University earlier this month. The event included two half-day workshops, “Developing a Premier Service-learning Course,” and “Getting Service-Learning Research and Community-Engaged Scholarship Published,” led by Jeffrey Howard, the founder and editor of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning.
The first workshop focused on clarifying and distinguishing academic service-learning from other types of community-based learning methods and provided insight into the principles of good service-learning teaching, how to meet the learning objectives of service-learning courses, and methods to reach those objectives.
“The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) stands for learning through service that produces students who are civically engaged and graduates who are active, global citizens,” says Katie Flowers, the director of CCESL.
Service-learning is a cornerstone of the CCESL mission statement and is community-engaged experiential pedagogy that contributes to the HWS academic mission and commitment to the Geneva partnership.
In addition to the four faculty in attendance, Flowers and Jeremy Wattles, assistant director for CCESL, also participated in the workshop.
“CCESL was thrilled to support HWS faculty attendance in an effort to further promote awareness of and opportunities for publishing community engaged research in scholarly journals, including the Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning,” says Flowers.
Nine percent of HWS faculty members teach service learning classes, which is above the national average. Community based learning surveys completed by HWS students indicated that more than 80 percent were able to relate service-learning experiences to course readings and reflections. Additionally, Flowers notes, of the 80,000 hours that were generated by HWS students during the previous academic year, 7,000 were completed by 350 students who were enrolled in 19 service-learning classes.
All of the HWS attendees plan to use the information they learned to improve service-learning courses at the Colleges.
Assistant Professor of Physics Leslie Hebb says she is exploring how she can add a service-learning component to her astronomy course or to the “stargazing” lab she is developing.
Helen McCabe, associate professor of education and director of the Colleges’ Global Initiative on Disability (GID), attended the workshop with Solomé Rose, a member of the GID staff and the Global Community Leadership Fellow at CCESL, to gain insight into the service-learning course they will develop that accompanies a trip to China next summer.
“One thing I learned was the importance of providing a strong orientation or introduction to the community and the organizations where students will be working,” says McCabe. Because of this, she says she will ensure that students learn about the organizations they will work for before they leave for China.
Attendees also found the workshop on publishing service-learning research and material to be valuable. Faculty and staff explored potential service-learning research directions and participated in various critiquing activities.
Wattles found this especially useful as he will be working toward publishing an academic paper regarding service learning in the fall semester. “This workshop will have a tangible benefit in the coming year,” he says. “I’m excited to learn more about this field and help out where I can with our HWS faculty and students.”