Service Learning Program Provides Hands-On Learning and Community Benefit

Dec 03, 2015, 12:00 ET from College of DuPage

GLEN ELLYN, Ill., Dec. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each year, hundreds of COD students are gaining crucial real-world experience, enhanced learning and a greater sense of satisfaction by participating in service learning experiences across a broad range of disciplines and venues.

Volunteer roles include helping to provide a clean bed at a homeless shelter; assisting refugees with the first steps of resettlement; helping children with developmental disabilities develop muscle tone and balance while horseback riding; teaching grade school children about money or sustainability; planting, growing and harvesting plants; offering companionship to individuals with special needs; or holding an infant who has special medical needs.

"The Service Learning program at College of DuPage is more than volunteering," said Kirby. "The program includes three crucial components – student engagement, community partnerships and faculty facilitated learning – and involves a teaching style that engages learning in the classroom through hands-on service in the community and civic responsibility. It teaches things traditional classroom experiences cannot and gives students the opportunity to experience a different side of their community and receive a fresh perspective on the world while gaining an understanding of the impact they can have through volunteerism."

Through Service Learning, each year, between 350 to more than 500 COD students from more than 40 classes provide approximately 7,000 hours of service to more than 80 organizations throughout the community, Kirby said. In addition, the students' work has a real economic impact on the community. Based on wage values established by the Corporation for National and Community Service, COD service learners provided more than $170,000 worth of service annually to individuals, organizations and the community at large.

Kirby said that while community engagement is important, it's the experience's relationship to the coursework that remains a vital element of service learning.

"The most crucial element in any assignment is that it facilitates prompted reflection about how the volunteer experience connects to course material," Kirby said. "Reflection is where the magic happens. The integration of the experience to the coursework is where we see the greatest learning in students."

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SOURCE College of DuPage