Teaching & Service Learning

The March session of ProVisions Teaching and Learning series was on Teaching and Service learning. The three presenters talked about what service learning is and shared some of their own teaching experiences with service learning.

Dr. Fred Boehrer, Coordinator of Academic Service Learning, discussed what academic service learning actually is. Dr. Boehrer discussed service learning as a “classroom based learning experience” in which students meet needs of a community group by volunteering. During their service time students will also be reinforcing the learning objectives for the course they are taking. According to Dr. Boehrer service learning can be used in courses across the disciplines. For further investigation into using service learning he directed everyone to visit Campus Compact at www.compact.org The website has resources for faculty, students, and community partners/organizations, including many syllabi organized by discipline. Using service learning in the classroom is a wonderful way to show students how to become involved with the community in a positive manner. Next, Dr. Boehrer talked about the steps to implementing a service learning project into a classes course work – IPARD. The first step is to Investigation potential organizations to work with.  Planning the project is the next step followed by Action. During the action step, students go out and perform the duties the partner/organization needs them to complete. The next step is Reflection. Students should reflect on their experiences either where they completed the service learning, in class, or in both places. The last step is Demonstration; which is a way students can share with peers in the course their experiences and how those experiences have expanded their understanding of the material in the course.

Dr. Boehrer’s Handouts

Common Questions Faculty ask about Service Learning

Service-Learning Course Development Worksheet

How Service Learning Affects Learning

Dr. Stephanie Bennett, Assistant professor of Sociology and Research Fellow for the Institute for Community Research and Training, shared her own experience with teaching service learning in a public health class. Dr. Bennett wanted to make her course interesting. She decided to have her students become involved with a public health campaign after talking to a colleague. This was the start of a very successful service learning project that has been producing public health pamphlets and other promotional texts for the College of Saint Rose and even some for the University of Albany. The first pamphlet was for Alcohol Awareness with a sub-topic on how swine flu was being spread through drinking games. Another pamphlet was produces on online harassment/cyber stalking. The most recent pamphlet was about tobacco use – attribute to our now smoke free campus.

Students Pamphlet Examples

Alcohol Awareness


Online harassment

Dr. Claudia Lingertat-Putnam, Associate Professor and Department Chair of the Counseling and College Student Services Association (CSSA) Programs, shared her service learning teacher experiences with the Refugee and Immigrant Support Service of Emmaus (RISSE). Her counseling students went in with lesson plans for the children. Their involvement with the program ended up helping with some of the issues refugees were facing in the program such as tolerance and decision-making. Dr. Lingertat-Putnam’s guest speaker, Rifat Nazir, from RISSE said the students’ plans helped bridge a gap between the refugees of many different cultures. At first, Dr. Lingertat-Putnam’s students – who were not teachers – worried about the project. However, by the end they were extremely comfortable and enjoyed their experiences.

Power Point

Podcast of the March Session


April ProVisions Session

For anyone interested in attending the next ProVisions Session: Academically Adrift? Conversation & Reflections on the Futures of Higher Education it has been moved to Thursday, April 19th. It will still be held at the same time and place (12:00 to 1:15 in the Standish conference room).

So remember to save the date!

Education and Lending a Helping Hand

Service Learning has become a huge component for several colleges’ curriculums. Many professors have even added a stipulation that if the service learning projects are not completed the student fails the class – regardless of whether or not the student actually received a passing grade. However, there are some professors who use service learning to engage their students. Take Billie Hara for example. In her article “Service Learning (for students)”, Hara talks about service learning as a tool for retention, for achieving goals, and as a connection to the real world. She uses a pen pal system to connect older and younger students together to discuss academics.

While Hara discussed the pros of service learning Stan Katz discussed the difficulties of creating a service learning project that is beneficial to both the students and the people they are supposedly helping. Katz admitted to having little experience with service learning; however, his claims are definitely valid. When students volunteer for different organizations it is often difficult for the students to get what they need while simultaneously giving the organizations what they need. The ideal situation would have to be students getting what they need solely by giving the organizations what they need. This of course would be very difficult to achieve because both the students and those they are helping would have to help give without losing anything. Read “Does Service Learning Really Help?” for more information.

So what is the difference between Hara’s service learning and the service learning Katz talked about?  Unfortunately this question is hard to answer because professors and students don’t necessarily know exactly what the other party needs. However, The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse gives a great example at what students should be gaining from service learning. The website recommends that education programs with service learning assignments should makes sure the assignments correspond to what the students are learning in the class.

Kiran Bir Sethi created a service learning project that benefitted hundreds if not thousands of people. Sethi’s presentation on this project focused on the “contagious” aspect of service learning. The brilliance and effectiveness of Sethi’s own service learning project lies with its contagiousness. It started out small and then it grew, and then it grew again. What started out as a single elementary class’ project became the projects of hundreds of students. The end results affected several communities in India, including one that now blocks off streets on certain days in order to put of play areas for children.

With all of these wonderful ideas for service learning floating around there is bound to be some recognition for the educators who are the creators. Ryan Brown reports in his article – Health Professor, Honored for Civic Work, Developed a Metric for Service Learningon Professor Sherril B. Gelman’s decade’s long promotion of service learning. Her major claim to fame is the development of a class assignment to assess local health programs. This assignment gets her students out into the field and conversing with the community instead of just sitting in a classroom and reading about what goes on in the world.

So what why does service learning relate to higher education? Well, the answer to that can be found in Billie Hara’s article. Service learning has several benefits for students including something that colleges are currently striving to raise: retention. This benefit alone could be the reason so many colleges have adopted service learning programs. Duke University for example has the International Center for Service-Learning in Teacher Education. The website hosts links to Service Learning texts – like The Journal for Research on Service-Learning and Teacher Education, – conference dates, and information on the center. The purpose of this program is for students to become active members in their community and to get to know those they will eventually be working with.

The College of Saint Rose is also involved in a Service Learning Program: Project SLATE. This project is also based in teacher education and is a joint project with several other colleges in the Capital Region. The goal of the program is to help education students learn to use service learning projects in their own future classrooms; which is a great way to ensure that the service learning the college students must do is passed on to future students.

Quite a few wonderful service learning programs have come out of schools (both K-12 and higher education). It is not too late to start using service learning projects in your classroom. If you are short on ideas then just Google it and you will find some amazing examples from other educators.


March ProVisions Session TOMORROW!

Tomorrow is the March lunch session for ProVisions. There will be presentations on service learning from the following presenters:

Fred Boehrer, PhD
Coordinator of Academic Service-Learning, Community Involvement Faculty

Stephanie Bennett, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology, REsearch Fellow for the Institute For Community Research and Training

Claudia Lingertat-Putnam, PsyD
Chair, Counseling, CSSA & Educational Leadership

The session is from 12:00 to 1:15pm in Standish and there will be a free lunch provided.

A Change at Harvard

In an effort to boost retention rates many colleges have changed or are in the process of making changes to courses. With a huge increase in drop-out rates has come an increased look into the cognitive abilities of students. In his article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching,” Dan Berrett discusses Harvard’s recent proposal to change lecture based courses. Although, many colleges and universities are way ahead of Harvard in changing their curriculums it is still important to note that a school such as Harvard (old and distinguished) is willing and ready to change.

The article touches upon the misconceptions many professors have about student learning and what Harvard is planning to do to revamp the college. The university has received $40 million dollars in order to make changes to the structure of classes to the structure of classrooms. To read the full article click on the link below.

 “Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching”