Actively apply your academic knowledge while in the service of your communities!
by K. Persaud
The program takes the pedagogical approach of “service learning”, where students reflect on how their academic knowledge enhances their service activity and how their service experience informs their academic understanding.
By actively applying their scholastic knowledge, students' understanding and motivation increase as academic content becomes more relevant to them. Students also benefit by gaining practice in potential post-graduate pursuits. Not only are they exposed to the activities and expectations those occupations realistically involve, but students also acquire the hands-on experience that employers, graduate and professional schools value. In turn, communities, both within and external to the university, benefit from access to bright academic minds.
Service Learning and Outreach (formerly known as Science Engagement) placements are offered through the course, CTLB03H3 “Introduction to Service Learning.” The course has two components: The placement component involves approximately 5-7 hrs/week of active involvement with a placement partner, while in the mandatory class component, Service Learning and Outreach participants learn about service learning and the skills necessary to get the most out of their experience. Students are also required to carry out critical self-reflection through which they continually monitor and assess how their service enhances their own scholarship. Evaluation is based on participation, self-reflective writing and project portfolio creation.
There are two different types of placements: Community Outreach and Classroom “In-reach”.
For "Community Outreach" -type placements, students bring concepts taught in the academic classroom to discipline-related parties within the off-campus community. These parties might include area schools, laboratories, NGOs and government departments. Students are exposed to the current needs of their communities and the approaches being employed to meet these needs. In turn, community organizations benefit from access to bright, inquiring minds and academic role models.
By employing academic knowledge in a meaningful context, students become active learners. Through practice, concepts become solidified and students develop a sense of ownership over self-generated knowledge. Students learn how to recognize issues, formulate and carry out initiatives and evaluate progress and thus become more self-reflective learners. Communication and other skills imperative to professional practice are strengthened and students have direct experience with how scientific knowledge is generated and transferred.
For Classroom "In-reach" -type placements, students who have successfully completed a particular course use their experience to enrich the learning of students currently taking that course. In-reach students might develop practice exercises or review modules, assist instructors with teaching tools, and so on. Because they need to dissect course content and reduce concepts down to fundamental levels, In-reach students gain a true and deep understanding of their discipline. By engaging with course material, instructors and other students, they regain motivation and appreciation for their discipline.
FOR MORE DETAILS, PLEASE SEE OUR WEBSITE: http://ctl.utsc.utoronto.ca/sl/ and the "Centre for Teaching and Learning" section of the course calendar.Article categories:
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