Hundreds of students across multiple Washington State University campuses will participate in community service projects as part of their English classes this year.
The projects are facilitated by non-profit organizations and will provide students with rich experiences to reflect on and write about.
The professors who run the courses said the service learning projects were largely inspired by the excellent training, resources and support they received from the Community Engaged Scholars (CES) program run by the Center for Civic. Student Affairs Division Commitment (CCE).
Changing the approach to learning
CES is a one-semester program that teaches professors the key concepts of service learning: best practices, why service learning is an important tool in the classroom, how to develop strong community partnerships, techniques assessment and how these efforts fit into tenure and promotion.
Jessica Perone, CCE faculty consultant, said paying attention to these concepts helps faculty design projects that allow students to better understand what they are learning in their classes.
“It has been great to see this group of professors develop so many creative ways to incorporate service learning into their curriculum,” said Perone.
For his English 101 courses, WSU Pullman Teaching Assistant Professor David Martin wanted the service-learning component to be research-oriented; however, he did not have a clear idea of the types of projects that would work in his curriculum.
“I was able to learn what the other CES professors were doing and found it very useful,” said Martin. “It allowed me to think about some possibilities for my lessons. “
This semester, its students are working with community partners in the Palouse area to identify local challenges such as food and housing insecurity, abandoned animals and erosion of waterways. They will create a problem statement, write a review of the literature, and present ideas on how these challenges can be resolved.
Students in Linda Russo’s English class 302 will work with the Palouse Conservation District to restore areas along the Palouse River. She said CES inspired her to explore what literary studies could look like when students literally got their hands dirty.
“I wanted to see what creative writing entails when students have their feet in the mud after helping restore the ecosystem,” Russo said. “What is creativity, if not developing ideas and making connections? “
Vanessa Cozza and Johanna Phelps, English teachers at Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses, respectively, said students in their technical and professional writing classes are working with several community partners to create promotional materials such as instruction manuals, brochures, logos and website designs. .
“CES supports the idea that students can meet the learning goals of the classroom while meeting the needs of the community,” said Phelps. “It changes their approach to learning in a good way. “
“This is by far my favorite class to teach because I love working with local professionals and community members,” Cozza said. “When students listen to them directly, they understand better why this work is important. “
Small communities of practice
One of the biggest benefits of attending CES, according to Martin, Phelps, Russo and Cozza, was the opportunity to meet other professors interested in service learning. Many have remained in contact with each other since the end of the program.
“Cohorts become small communities of practice where professors get to know each other, reflect on each other and collaborate,” said Perone. “They also have CCE support whenever they need it in the future. “
English teachers were able to participate in CES thanks to a partnership between the CCE and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Each faculty member received a stipend of $ 750, and additional funds were available for the development of the project. In all, 12 CAS professors from various disciplines completed the program last year.
CES is available to all WSU colleges and interested faculty should contact Perone for more information.