Faculty in Action
By emphasizing applied results of research as much as the process, students are exposed to real issues, and their discussions can legitimately address the question, “so what?”
Dr. Johnson teaches a service-learning course called “Upland Habitat Ecology” in which students engage a local wildlife research project in collaboration with a local land management agency or organization. The dual purpose of the project is to not only teach students about the process of research, but legitimize it by connecting it with real-world application with community partners. Read more about one example of a class project highlighted by Outdoor California magazine.
Dr. Johnson believes service learning has impacted his teaching, “by challenging me to connect to the community and embed my lessons with application. This work has legitimized experiential learning for the students, and helped them see how scientific research is not merely an academic exercise, but rather a process essential for society to make deliberative management decisions.”
I’ve been including service learning in one of my main courses for 10 years, and it always keeps things fresh. We build on past projects with long-term partners and also establish new relationships in the community. It is very exciting to see students grasp these valuable out-of-the-classroom experiences.”
Dr. Blumenshine teaches a service-learning certified course in Aquatic Ecology every spring semester. Students in Aquatic Ecology provide at least 15 hours of service with federal and state government, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations, on issues of water quality and habitat restoration, including fish sampling, water testing, river restoration efforts and teaching aquatic ecology modules in local classrooms. For example, students placed at the USDA Water Management Research Lab, worked with water chemistry, toxicology and remediation to learn how USDA research helps improve agricultural productivity and sustainability, and reduce negative environmental impact. More »
No matter how many lectures you hear or how many books you may read, seeing your efforts make a difference in your community and for the environment drives home the importance of civic engagement and the principles of conservation.”
Dr. Whitcraft teaches an upper-division, service-learning course in conservation biology designed to incorporate concepts from multiple areas of biology (genetics, population biology, ecology) and the social sciences (environmental economics, law, policy) with hands-on service experiences. Students develop a skill set that converts a desire to “save the earth” into practical knowledge and a viable career that also contribute to local communities. She teaches the course in two sections: 1) important conservation biology tools, and 2) a case-study oriented approach using both historic and contemporary issues. As a service-learning course, students learn about conservation biology though a guided placement with a conservation organization (partner) in the local area for approximately 20 hours during the semester. This experience helps demonstrate how conservation biology concepts are used in a real world context.
Service learning can transform a bored and reluctant student in a science course into a passionate learner who wants to change the local environment through the intelligent use of relevant insights as a result of scientific analysis.”
Students in Dr. Stronck’s Instructional Methods of Teaching Single Subject Science had a hands-on opportunity to both participate in community service alongside their high school students, and also utilize service learning as a teaching method. These science-credential candidates instructed high school students about the ecology of native and non-native species and how the introduction of nonnative species can alter the ecosystem. They then led the high school students in community service at Stivers Lagoon by planting native trees.
Service learning may greatly benefit students. I saw it increase the students’ confidence, enhance their knowledge and skills, boost their self-esteem, motivate them to produce work of quality, and help them build professional networks.”
Dr. Leh has been integrating service learning into her courses and grant projects since 2003. She implemented service-learning and reverse mentoring strategies in a federal grant project, “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology (PT3)”. As a result, students in her course “Practicum in Instructional Technology” provided individual technology training and mentoring to College of Education faculty members. Additionally, through a technology conference she created and continues to oversee annually, EdTech Classroom Conference, Dr. Leh’s students in “STEM Education: Service-Learning Fieldwork” have been providing technology service at the conference, while K-12 educators, parents and administrators come together to learn how technology is shaping teaching and learning.. For the future, Dr. Leh’s students in “Computer Based Technology in Education II” will provide technology training to parents at the Conference.