Taking the learning out of the classroom and out of our control can seem intimidating, even scary maybe, but Meagen Chorney, nursing instructor, says that her experience with the College's Step Out of Your Box (SOYB) service-learning program proves it can be worth that feeling of risk.
She incorporated the program into her Gender Studies for Health Professionals course as an alternative assignment to writing a paper. “Incorporating service-learning into my course was easy," she explains, “because I worked with Vera Godavari, the program coordinator, to implement it." SOYB helps students explore a dimension of diversity different from their own. The program takes students out of the classroom and into the work world, where they complete seven hours of volunteer time at a community organization of their choice. The objective is to coordinate with the organization to plan a project; the students write a reflection on their experience.
“Students were not only learning about the communities they were volunteering with, they were also learning about themselves," says Meagen. “As an instructor, I can give my students readings, lectures, and discussions. With the help of SOYB, I can also give my students that 'a-ha' moment when theory comes to life. As one student put it, “I finished this experience not learning what I wanted, but learning what I needed."
The first time Meagen offered SOYB as an alternative assignment, most of her students chose it. Since then, every student has chosen service-learning over writing a paper. From the comments in their reflections, students see the value of this experience, she says. “For me, it has been a shift in my perspective of my role as an instructor. I had to let go of control over what and how exactly a student will learn."
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