October 18th Session Summary: Fostering Relationships With Students Outside of the Classroom

Click here to access the audio recording from this session (the volume of this is very low due to the way it was recorded, sorry for the inconvenience).

Our second Provisions session of the 2016-2017 year explored the theme of “Fostering Relationships With Students Outside of the Classroom.” Presenters shared experience and expertise with the various topics pertaining to the theme, in which sought to improve relationships with students outside of the classroom.  An audience of approximately 25 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Kari Murad, Department of Biology, Claire Ziamandanis, Department of World Languages and Cultures and Ken Scott, Director of Community Service.

Kari Murad from the Department of Biology started off the session by presenting on her personal experiences from the Faculty-Led Program (FLPcourse, Food Microbiology. Kari explained the she has been in the teaching profession for eighteen years, and has participated in this FLP course for 9 years. Kari explained that this FLP course in Food Microbiology is offered to upper level science majors every two years, and encompasses a trip to France for two weeks during spring break. Kari emphasized the three main components of creating and maintaining successful relationships with students; (1) allowing enough time for the integration of knowledge and reflection of experiences, (2) providing opportunities for experiences in which are linked to academic content, and (3) providing opportunities to connect personal childhood experiences with the course content. The first assignment in Kari’s course requires students to tell their ‘story’ through a personal reflection using the quote, “Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of (wo)man you are.” In this reflection, students can share their experiences with traveling, cultural differences, food, etc. The study abroad portion of the course involves the exploration of France, including farms, vineyards, etc, and the opportunity to connect childhood experiences through reflection (shared each night at dinner with the group).

Next to present was Claire Ziamandanis from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Claire began her presentation with the title of her presentation, There’s a bull on my balcony!. Claire explained how the tragedy of 9/11 impacted the rest of her teaching. She discussed how she was teaching about ‘ar’verbs in Spanish 101 when the news of what had happened reached her classroom, which promoted the reflection of the value of  ‘ar’ verbs in the world. Learning must meet the immediate needs of students and there must be contextualization for the synthesization of knowledge. Claire discussed how the first year leading an FLP course can be overwhelming and stressful, but provides great satisfaction once accustomed to the details and pace of the planning. Claire explained that while in Madrid, she has her students visit the same cafe every morning, as a way of entering the community by getting to know the workers in the cafe. To promote conversation, Claire assigns students different topics to discuss with community members of Madrid. The cultural activities in Madrid foster improvements in students language skills and confidence in using those skills. Additionally, FLP’s  provides opportunities for co-learning with students, pseudo-parent relationships with students, and mentoring other faculty to become FLP course leaders. Claire discussed some challenges with FLP’s, including the maintenance of academic focus, avoidance of tourism, connecting experiences to course content, and intercultural learning.

Last to present was Ken Scott, the Director of Community Service. Ken began his presentation by explaining his experience of being the director of community service for sixteen years, and a faculty member of the college for twenty six years. Ken described his experience with helping to recover the devastation from hurricane Irene. Ken arranged to have a baseball team of all male students to accompany him with the restoration of buildings destroyed from the hurricane. Ken discussed that 80-90% of the community service work is done with female students, as they tend to be more compassionate, mature, and sophisticated in terms of emotional intelligence. Ken emphasized the significant impact that a professor can have on first year college students through a personal example of his own college experience. Some of the work Ken and his students have done have occurred in Florida, NYC, and San Francisco, and involved habitat humanity, hurricane restoration, working with incarcerated women, and pockets of poverty…among many other wonderful missions! Although sufficient time and money is a challenge of such missions, the evolution of student confidence, individual voice, and sense of moral authority make service learning opportunities gratifying.

Following the brief presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from the discussion:

  • Debriefing
    • How do you do this?
      • Evening reflections
      • Plan sessions
      • Online reflection
      • 6 hour mandatory debriefing
  • Line between academics/interpersonally
    • Based upon the specific group of students (what is the group mentality?)
    • Shift objectives to better fit the needs of the students
    • Refocusing to course objectives/academic agenda
  • Boundaries within student-teacher relationships

Please join us for our upcoming November 15th session on Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity.” Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂


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

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.