For the past several years Dr. Slack, Assistant Professor and Department Chair in Exercise Science, has been active in the Academic Service-Learning environment at UVU. As he uses service-learning as a pedagogy in his EXSC 4400 Physical Activity Promotion in the Community class, it brings valuable experiences to the students that will in turn, increase throughout the learning process. For the service-learning projects, students work in groups to identify partners around the community that they can assist in promoting their physical activity programs. The community partners that are most used by the students are senior assisted centers, i.e. Courtyard at Jamestown, The Seville, The Charleston at Cedar Hills, and The City of Orem Department of Recreation. In addition to these community partners, students have identified and worked with several others community partners in the Utah County area. Their task is to work with the staff to promote their existing physical activity programs, in addition to offering programs the UVU students feel will increase the physical activity of those residents at the community sites. Students feel they have the opportunity to use their education to help a population that would not otherwise be able to benefit from such physical activity programs. In addition, service-learning gives the exercise science students a chance to move away from the classroom to enhance their skills of working with people to promote fitness and wellness.
Imagine spending two years pursuing a degree, only to find that you hate the job it leads to! This happens to many secondary education majors who labor towards their certification without spending any time in a public school classroom. Then student teaching hits and they discover that teaching really isn't the job for them. Dr. Suzy Cox, Assistant Professor in the Secondary Education Department, wanted to make sure that this wouldn't be the case for students at UVU. Additionally, her course is a fairly theoretical one and she wanted her students to see practical applications of the course content. So her students spend the semester volunteering as aids in secondary classrooms (grades 7-12), helping in any ways their cooperating teachers might need while simultaneously watching for instances of adolescent development concepts, behaviorist teaching methodologies, and more. Suzy knows that it is a lot of work for her students, but she has also seen their understanding of the material increase and many of them are really wrestling with their teaching aspirations - typically in their first semester in the program. Many also make lasting connections with teachers and administrators at schools in the area. Dr. Cox has found service-learning to be extremely beneficial for her students.
Jonathan H. Westover, Director of Academic Service Learning and Assistant Professor of Management in the Woodbury School of Business, has been heavily involved with service-learning since coming to UVU in 2009. However, his interest in service-learning and other community engagement learning strategies began when he was an undergraduate and graduate student at BYU and the University of Utah, where he was a student in 8 different community engagement/service-learning classes. As a student, he quickly learned the value of completing hands-on, real-world projects for community partners, which both helped to meet a real community need while simultaneously enriching his personal learning and practical skill development. Since then, he has used some form of service-learning or other community engagement learning strategy in all of the classes he has taught. Since joining the faculty at UVU, Dr. Westover joined the UVU Service-Learning Committee (from 2009-2011) and completed the Service Learning Fellowship in the fall of 2009. Since then, he has also developed and taught two different service-learning courses: (1) Organizational Development and Change, and (2) Employee Training and Development. As the new Director of Academic Service Learning at UVU, he is excited to work with faculty across campus and support them in their service-learning and other community engagement efforts.
Trudy Christensen, an Associate Professor in the Digital Media Department, has been involved in service-learning since coming to UVU in 2005. Upon hearing about service-learning at the new instructor orientation, she recognized the potential of service-learning as a powerful instructional strategy—it immediately resonated with her background in educational psychology and instructional design and her prior professional experience designing and developing instruction for schools, universities, and businesses. With her interest piqued in this powerful pedagogy, she volunteered to be a member of the campus service-learning committee from 2005-2008. She also participated in the faculty fellowship and started re-designing many of the courses she taught to include service-learning. Since then, she has taught at least two to three courses per semester as service-learning courses. In 2008, Dr. Christensen was appointed Director of Academic Service-Learning at UVU and served in this capacity for three years. During this time, the number of service-learning courses offered on campus per year increased from 78 courses in 2007-8 to 273 service-learning courses during 2010-11. Though no longer director, she continues to be impressed by how service-learning adds meaning and motivation for many students as they complete course projects and assignments and plans to keep using this pedagogy with many of her courses.