The faculty attending the Deepening Service-Learning workshop made clear commitments to deepening their service-learning practice and shared their plans in order to improve learning and community impact. Tramaine Austin Dillon explained that he was going to implement structured assessments within his class. Missy expressed that she was going to do the same thing within her class as well, in hopes of learning exactly what went right and what can be improved. Geri Olsen commented that she was going to focus on small groups of student service-learning, as opposed to groups of 100 students like she usually does. She believes this will improve the quality of the service provided.
On April 8, Missy Garvin held a faculty workshop focused on the deepening of service- learning. Missy is both a Faculty Fellow in the CCE and a professor in the Psychology department. In attendance were six other faculty members dedicated to implementing service-learning into their classrooms.
Missy’s dedication to service-learning shone through in this event. She wanted to know what was working for these faculty when they implemented service-learning into their classes, and what wasn’t. There is no one specific way to successfully use service-learning in a class. The faculty are constantly trying to improve it and make it the best it can possibly be.
Having the students write reflections throughout their service-learning experience was a recurring idea that the faculty felt needed to be better enforced in their classrooms. “Even the best practiced instructor will have issues with reflection,” said Merith Weisman, Director of the Center for Community Engagement. She explained that reflections need to be well designed in order to be effective for what the faculty has in mind. Merith also noted that you need to be able to talk about failure in order to improve. It can be tough to self reflect and look at your class with a critical eye, but it is incredibly helpful when planning your next service-learning course.
While speaking about her experience in service-learning, Missy pointed out a key note that I think we all can learn from: “you don’t learn inside your comfort zone.” The faculty left Missy’s event inspired to improve and expand the service-learning done inside their classes.