Student Learning serves as valuable teaching instrument
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 19:09
Since 2008, UTM has recognized and encouraged Service Learning as a valuable teaching method. While many have heard about Service Learning, they’re not quite sure what it is or why it’s so valuable.
Nancy Sonleitner, assistant professor of behavioral sciences, has been working with Service Learning for roughly a year longer than the campus has been encouraging it.
According to Sonleitner, “Service Learning is a combination of community service, through volunteer organizations and classwork.” When a professor gets involved in Service Learning, they are providing their students with a unique opportunity to get the kind of life experience that only community service can give you, while also participating in academic studies.
Sonleitner offered a more insightful reason for why Service Learning is so valuable.
“In class and in textbooks, it’s intellectual head-learning. When people go into the community to volunteer and think about what they are experiencing in the volunteer service, in the context of what they’re learning, it gives them heart-knowledge. They understand, in a deeper way, what it is that they’re learning,” said Sonleitner.
In essence, Service Learning can help a student understand more about the community itself.
“There are studies that indicate it increases the likelihood students will graduate, that they will more fully appreciate people who have needs they themselves do not have and even that their understanding of the course content is improved,” said Mike McCullough, director of the Institute for Civic Engagement.
This clearly adds to why more professors should take part in Service Learning, as well as why more students should participate on their own accord.
The question may rise, who all participates in Service Learning?
McCullough said, “The Institute for Civic Engagement (ICE) and it's student counterpart service, and the American Democracy Project before that; have sought to increase instances of it, to keep a record of it and to assess its impact.
“Social work students are the ones who do the most of it, but it happens in all the UTM colleges. Students in my MBA organizational theory class do it, and it has also been done in other MBA classes as well as UG classes in business. It is also done in Education, English, Engineering, Communication, Health and Human Performance, Nursing and other classes,” said McCullough.
This list is sure to grow.
Sonleitner offers one final reason for professors to take part in Service Learning.
“Students learn best from doing hands-on work. If you provide them with a learning opportunity that is a hands-on experience, they’re really going to learn much more,” said Sonleitner.