“It is a way to get our generation involved,” is what one student is saying about student learning. Another student added, “It makes you use skills, and helps you exercise self-esteem.”
According to Liz Montague’s service learning English 2010 syllabus, service learning classes “…require each individual to commit at least 15 hours of service with a non-profit community partner of your choice over the course of the semester.” The syllabus goes on, “Service learning combines academic study with engagement in ‘real-life’ situations…service learning allows you to be involved in your community.”
According to Gail Jesson, the Director of the Thayne Center for Service & Learning, “The Thayne Center was established at SLCC in 1994. There have been faculty and community partners doing service-learning work for years, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the college established the formal position of Service-Learning Coordinator. There is currently a designation program that faculty run their courses through if they want to be formally recognized as official service-learning courses. Of course, faculty is welcome to teach their course however they see fit, including service-learning, and not designate – but we offer professional development opportunities and a supportive network of practitioners within the service-learning program.”
According to Lisa Walz, Salt Lake Community College Service-Learning Coordinator, “You can sign up for these classes online or in person,” she said. “If you specifically want to sign up for a Service Learning class, talk to a professor ahead of time to see if they have requested any service learning classes, or go to the department secretary or head.” She recommended going to thaynecenter.slpro.net for more information and a list of designated service learning classes.
When asked if there are any drawbacks to service learning, Walz said it depends on each individual and the situation. “Transportation can be a challenge,” said Walz. ” [And] sometimes professors don’t follow up like they should with their class.”
She specified that by “follow-up” she means reflection. “Without reflection it’s not service learning. Sometimes faculty doesn’t go through reflection properly enough.”
By reflection, Walz means going over how the opportunity and involvement has made a student grow and what they have learned and gained.
Why should students take service-learning classes instead of traditional classes? “It gives you hands on experience, it’s something other than a lecture, it gives you an opportunity to learn about social justice and making connections, it enhances learning,” Walz said.
“This way you hold onto your knowledge instead of letting it go,” said SLCC student Jesse Brake about the subject in Montague’s Service Learning English 2010 class.
Montague’s class has been split into five different groups, all of which have separate goals that they are working towards. Jesse Brake, Alessandra Amato, and Eric Hess make up one of these five groups and hoped to help provide homeless animals with homes. They arranged to volunteer with No More Homeless Pets In Utah by participating in their Fall Pet Super Adoption Event, which took place Sept. 10-12 in a local PetSmart parking lot.
Nathan Dahlquist, a Salt Lake Community College student said, “If you are looking to get involved and apply the knowledge you are learning in school, I would recommend service learning. If you want to get through college doing as little as possible, then I don’t think it’s a good idea.”