There are several ways in which students can engage in the community that involves both service to the agency as well as learning for the students. The students may serve in pairs, in small groups, with their entire class, or on their own at a particular community site. The service-learning models below help to identify various ways students could participate in a service-learning project.
PLACEMENT / DIRECT SERVICE
Students choose from several service site placements that have been identified for that particular course. Activities of direct service place the student in personal contact with people in need. Placements are carefully chosen to complement the content of each service-learning course. In some courses (i.e. Social Problems) the possibility for placements are very broad depending on the population or social issue with which the student would like exposure. In others (i.e. Spanish Language) the number of placements that will fit the course is fewer and much more specific. With an understanding of community needs/agencies and a bit of creativity, the Assistant Director of Service-Learning and the professor work together to identify the community placements. Students serve a set number of hours at the site or visit the site a set number of times throughout the semester. Through direct service, the students gain access to the populations or issues related to their course and, at the same time, provide needed assistance to the agency and the individuals utilizing the services.
Example: SPA 101 & 102, Prof. Tim Scott Señor Scott offers his students the option of doing 10 hours of community service with the Spanish Action League’s afterschool program, the Westside Learning Center’s ESL classes, or MANOS, a bilingual preschool. The students are exposed, first hand, to the Hispanic community on Syracuse’s west side; practice their Spanish language and learn more about the Hispanic culture and needs in the community. The service they provide is assisting with either English language acquisition or other assistance identified by the agency.
Students in some courses take material that they are learning in class and create presentations for audiences/groups in the community. The students may work alone, in small groups, or as an entire class and present to one or several agency partners set up by the Assistant Director of Service-Learning and professor.
Example: NUR 297 – Childrearing, Prof. Mary Dooley Prof. Dooley has a well-established partnership with the Huntington Family Center where her students have the option of teaching a parenting class to expectant mothers. EMC 169 – Video Field Production, Prof. Linda Herbert In lieu of a critical analysis paper, students may opt to host a film screening at a community agency. They research the demographic served by the agency and choose an appropriate feature-length narrative film to show. At the screening, they present background research they have done on the film and facilitate a post-screening discussion with the audience.
PRODUCT / PROJECT
In some courses, students could work with a group or individually to produce a tangible product or devise and implement a project for a community agency.
Example: ARH/IND 101 Students in Ken Bobis’ ARH course met with representatives and residents from Van Duyn Home & Hospital to design a new community room for them that was more bright and inviting. Each design was presented to Van Duyn and Onondaga County representatives. In the end, Van Duyn had several feasible designs that would improve their space.
Advocacy as a service experience requires students to offer their voices and talents to the effort to eliminate the causes of a specific problem and to make the public aware of the problem. Activities could include making presentations to the community about particular issues or distributing literature about the issues throughout the area. Students learn to present their concerns clearly, to be concise in presenting their ideas, and to suggest reasonable solutions.
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