Find out how the Alma College Faculty integrate and reflect their Service Learning experiences.
Faculty are invited to participate in the Service Learning Faculty Fellows Program.
Dr. Deborah Dougherty's Experience
I arrange for the students to act as apprentice teachers at the elementary school level or as tutor/mentors with students at all levels in conjunction with the Alma Public Schools, Division of Migrant and Bilingual Education. Students enroll in Spn 180/380 depending on their level of Spanish and keep a journal on an on-line forum about their experience and the impact it has both on them and the programs/individuals they serve.
In one or two sentences, what were your goals in including Service Learning in your class?
I hoped to engage students in a real world application of their growing linguistic and cultural understanding as they study Spanish. Too often, people believe that the study of a foreign language or culture will be relevant only if they travel abroad. It's important to recognize the diversity we have all around us.
How did you feel the Service Learning course component went and what impact did it have on your teaching?
I have been very pleased with the growing commitment of Alma college students to become involved in Service Learning. Many students continue to be involved with their placements even after they are no longer enrolled for credit. The enthusiasm of the students and their appreciation for what they are learning and how much they can impact the lives of others has impacted me, perhaps more personally then in my teaching. Through this program I have the opportunity to see a different facet of my students interests and goals.
Do you feel the service experience was beneficial to your students and/or the community?
Absolutely. Students continually remark in their journals about how much they are learning; not necessarily academic, content area learning, but learning about themselves and the community they live in. Every semester I see the evolution of their perceptions of the public school system and the challenges so many students face. The community has also benefitted in that we have helped to staff programs that ordinarily would not take place. Elementary level students are being taught Spanish in schools where no instructor is available. Also, the students receiving services from the division of Migrant/Bilingual Education are getting much more individualized attention than would normally be possible.
Did you have any difficulties incorporating the service experience into your class?
Rather than incorporate the experience into a particular class, I created a 1 credit add-on course that allows students to participate as they choose, regardless of the Spanish class in which they are enrolled. Also, given the logistics of organizing individual placements for each student, I find this system lends itself to establishing continuity for those programs to which we provide service.