Troy University students have a new avenue to not only earn credit for classes but to learn volunteerism and civic responsibility, thanks to the Academic Service-Learning Program.
Located under the auspices of First-Year Studies, the program marries the needs of external organizations with curriculum needs of classes on campus, said Jonathan Cellon, coordinator of Student Learning Initiatives who works with the program.
In its first year, more than 325 students in 10 courses compiled more than 2,250 hours of service to the Troy community, he said.
“What we try to do is link course content to meaningful volunteer service for the students so that they have an opportunity to apply what they’re learning in class to real-world situations,” Cellon said. “It’s a tangible way the University can help the community meet defined needs.”
The program’s implementation has been cross-discipline, involving classes in kinesiology and health promotion, psychology, social sciences, communications and education.
Phillip Simon, a freshman business administration major, got involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as part of the service-learning project for his Introduction to Sociology class.
“I loved my ‘Little.’ He was so much fun,” Simon said.
While basketball and track-and-field games dominated the involvement, class instructor Brenda Campbell (BS 79, MSCJ 94) said that it gave her students the chance to put the leadership styles they learned in the classroom to the test.
“They used their leadership styles and worked on management skills in the project,” she said. “The students learned that a lot of times things just don’t work out as planned and they have to adjust.
“They also learned to appreciate what they have and that others may not be as blessed,” Campbell added.
While Campbell has tied volunteerism to her class before, she said working through a defined service-learning program has many benefits.
“We were able to meet specific needs in the community through the service-learning program and knew that what our students were doing had an actual impact,” she said.
In the College of Education, some students experienced that same impact around a table in the Troy Public Library.
Chassidy Helton, a sophomore math education major, tutored area school children after school in the library.
“The experience really opened my eyes to the individual learning process and different ways to connect with students,” she said. “I was able to learn a lot about students, the challenges they face and ways to make content relevant for them.”
Clif Lusk is a university relations coordinator.