The March ProVisions session focused on the topic of Teaching Service-Learning (S-L) Courses, with the two presenters providing insight on how to incorporate S-L into a variety of classes as well as a specific example of how S-L has already been incorporated into a Philosophy classroom.  The presenters included Fred Boehrer, Coordinator of Academic Service-Learning here at Saint Rose, and Jeanne Wiley, Associate Professor of Philosophy.

Boehrer began his presentation expressing how S-L benefits not only students but faculty, the college, and community organizations.  Boehrer said that S-L is a pedagogy, a teaching methodology that is classroom-based, involving not only preparation and service/volunteering, but reflection as a key component.

Boehrer explained that all courses can include S-L, and provided a variety of models:

–   A class can visit a community partner together.
–   “Buffet Style” – Students choose where to volunteer based on options offered by faculty.
–   A class can be divided into 2 or 3 sections to visit 2 or 3 community partners.
–   A community partner can be invited to campus and then a decision can be made on how to connect.
–   Problem-Based Service-Learning – A community partner identifies a problem, rather than faculty.

Boehrer said that there are three important things to consider when considering incorporating S-L into a course: time (to create/adjust syllabi, to connect with community partner, to assist with reflection), transportation (i.e. walking, St. Rose shuttle, St. Rose vans, public busses), and turnover (maintaining those community partnerships as teachers/students leave/graduate).

Boehrer also mentioned that Saint Rose’s S-L blackboard site will be launching in April.  The site will have numerous resources for S-L including sample syllabi, forms, lists of community partners, course related info, and transport info.

Jeanne Wiley followed Boehrer’s presentation, discussing her personal experiences with S-L in her own Philosophy classroom.  One of the first points that Wiley was sure to make was that her students do not simply earn credit for going out and “playing board games,” but that their service counts for field research that supplements traditional book work that then informs their reflection essay.  (You can find Wiley’s course materials in the previous post here)

Wiley explained how her course is a general education requirement, where the 60+ freshmen often feel “forced” to be in their class, something unrelated to their major that they were placed in.  Presented with this challenge, Wiley has found community service as a way to get students to see ethics as important to their lives.

Wiley then proceeded to talk about her process of incorporating S-L into her classroom.  For Wiley, the first step was conceptual, determining how S-L would help students achieve her course objectives.  The next step was logistical, thinking about her hour and fifteen minutes of class time, and realizing that in order for S-L to work within her course, students were going to have to be responsible for taking initiative with their service outside of class, a type of homework.  Lastly, Wiley explained that it was then about actually designing the curriculum.  She said that for her, it is important that students don’t have a collective experience.  She also mentioned that she often has to work to prevent “drive by service” from those minimalist students, stating that she in fact does subtract credit from those students who do not go outside their comfort zone.

To listen to a podcast of the March session, click here!

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