EFSC faculty members weigh in on the value of Service-Learning.

"I liked my connection to the community as an educator. And most of all, I liked to watch my students grow intellectually, socially and personally as they found a subject or a skill about which they were passionate. I was amazed at the positive feedback I received, even from the students who were initially less than thrilled with the idea. They wrote about how the experience dispelled their stereotypes, how volunteering forced them to step outside of their comfort zones, and how many of the abstract concepts we discussed in class were humanized. Not only do my students benefit from these experiences, I feel that it makes me a better teacher (and citizen) and it serves to strengthen agency partnerships and resources for our community members. Aren't all of these benefits part of a community college's goals?"
‑ Marina Baratian, Professor, Psychology


“My experience with service-learning can best be characterized by epiphany and evolution. Although, I was committed to the idea from my first year of teaching, it took many years for me to implement service-learning in my courses in a meaningful way. It also took many years and experiences for me to see the true value of service-learning to my students.

I was asked to develop a service component for my Principles of Macroeconomics and Principles of Microeconomics courses in 1988. I was not opposed to the idea, but I could not think of any service that was related to economics. My courses are academically rigorous and they are transfer courses for the students who wish to pursue Bachelor Degrees. Service-Learning simply did not seem to add value to my courses. Moreover, many colleagues gave students extra credit for their service hours and I firmly believe that my students’ grades should reflect the economic theory that they have learned. Although, I recognized the many benefits of Service-Learning and I supported the program, I just did not see a way to use it in Economics.

I did not stop thinking of the possibility of adding a component and a lively class discussion related to the economic ramifications of adult illiteracy resulted in my first epiphany. My second epiphany came when I realize that I tell all of the classes that everything that has ever happened or ever will happen has an economic angle. At this point it became clear that any service activity is related to my subject. I now have a mandatory project that is worth five percent of the course grade. I make the service option very appealing, but there are alternatives for those who lack time and transportation. The student is asked to write about how their experience relates to economics as well as what they personally received from the activity. Participation has increased greatly. The students who participate receive personal benefits, but they also develop the critical thinking skills that are valued in the workplace. I am impressed with their ability to dig beneath the surface and identify the economic implication of beach clean-ups, transporting patients at the hospital and any other activity that interests them. The final epiphanies: I now see that Service-Learning has the potential to transform the world. These students come to see that any act of kindness is service and that their actions ripple through society in a positive way. They begin to focus on the things that they have in common with other students rather than differences. Community service has the potential to change our society in wonderful ways.”
‑ Julia Derrick, Professor, Economics

 

“Service-Learning is an extraordinary educational method that integrates academic study with volunteer work. EFSC’s Service-Learning program has phenomenal impacts on the community, the college and especially the students. Our program is a national model and leader in the field and continues to achieve recognition for its decades-long tradition of excellence.”  
- Evelyn Young, Director, Center for Service Learning


“Community service has the potential to change our society in wonderful ways.”
- Julia Derrick, Professor, Economics