Students interested in courses incorporating community service

About 80 percent of students surveyed said they would take an Academic Service-Learning integrated course again.The course would allow students to be involved in community service, according to a survey in spring 2007.

The survey was sent out to 69 students in four Service-Learning courses and had a response rate of 40.6 percent.

Rosangela Boyd, director of community involvement and service-learning, said the Academic Service-Learning program intends to give students an opportunity to get involved in community service while learning about their profession.

“It is the integration of community service through academic content to enhance student learning,” Boyd said. “Education is about giving students the best possible opportunities to learn.”

There are academic benefits involved in the program but it also helps students in their personal development by enhancing their abilities to communicate and by promoting intercultural sensitivity and self-efficacy, Boyd said.

The number of faculty, courses and agencies involved in the Academic Service-Learning program is being documented and will be completed by next year to give students a better understanding about the program, Boyd said.

Faculty and students can choose any agency and project they want to work with depending upon the course. The community service should reflect the course objective, Boyd said.

Service-learning courses do not necessarily require the students to be in touch with the organization or client directly, Boyd said.

Even though there are no policies that require faculty to follow the service-learning program, Boyd said, they are encouraged to enforce it at the beginning of the semester if they wish to do so.

If a faculty member wishes to follow the Service-Learning program that suits his or her course but is unable to find an agency, the department of community involvement and the service-learning program assists him or her with it, Boyd said.

One professor involved in the service-learning program is M. Francyne Huckaby, associate professor of education. She received a faculty grant to work toward integrating service-learning into her curriculum.

Huckaby said she decided to try the service-learning program to give students a learning experience.

“Connecting students to the other experiences of the world can be a valuable asset,” Huckaby said.

At the moment, students cannot find out if their course integrates the Service-Learning program, Boyd said. However, faculty members are encouraged to put the information in their course descriptions, Boyd said.

Boyd said she has spoken to at least 60 faculty members who have integrated the Service-Learning program into their courses. She said students are inquiring about this program, which makes her department excited about what they are doing and they want to help students as much as possible.

Justin Brown, a music and political science major, was awarded a student research assistantship with the service-learning program last semester.

Brown said his research entailed looking at student perspectives and finding a way of integrating service-learning into TCU’s core curriculum.

“We want to make it accessible to students so that the benefit can be broadly consumed,” Brown said.

Brown said he expects to get his proposal ready by March, which will then go through the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association as a process of getting approval.