By Paula Humphrey, assistant professor, Undergraduate Elementary
A critical component in the recent revision of the undergraduate Elementary Education program is a Service Learning component that is useful and easy to manage for our undergraduate students. In each of the new courses, students examine their personal values and beliefs related to the six key Jesuit Values and how they connect to the real world of teaching. The Service Learning project is based on this premise. Our goal is to share the benefits of creating a Service Learning Project, provide students with a strong foundation in which to create their project, and assist students in gaining an understanding of community issues. All of these factors directly impact students in their journey to become effective teachers.
The benefits of the undergraduate Service Learning project are:
- Increased understanding of diverse populations
- Enhanced awareness of social issues and marginalized communities
- Hands-on experience
- Opportunity to test skills and interests in an educational setting
- Solidify the relationship between one’s personal beliefs/values and Jesuit Values
The foundational pieces of the undergraduate Service Learning project are:
- Identify individual strengths that assist students in working with a community partner
- Choose a community partner based on values/beliefs and interests
- Create an outline/plan to execute the Service Learning Project
- Complete Service Learning hours with a chosen community partner
- Create a visual timeline (digital story) of the journey
Additionally, the Service Learning Project encourages appreciation for the diverse cultures of our constantly changing world and provides a broader sense of purpose for learning. Learners’ critical examination of personal values and beliefs that relate to real-world issues and problems propel our undergraduate students to contribute as members of their community and emerge from the program as competent, caring teachers.