Breakout sessions: Service learning programs

Breakout sessions
Service learning programs

Friday, September 5, 2003
5:30 - 6:15 pm

Presenters:
Jeanine Gregoire, Assistant Professor of Education- Augsburg College
Paul Kuerbis, Professor of Education & Director of the Crown Teaching & Learning Center- The Colorado College
M. Patricia Morse, Professor of Zoology, Department of Zoology- University of Washington
Esther Oey, Assistant Professor, Department of Education & TSP Project Director- St. Lawrence University
James Palmer, Associate Professor, Department of Biology and Environmental Science - Allegheny College

Abstract:

The Teacher Scholar Partnership (TSP) in the Independent College Office is part of a NSF-funded model partnership program in science and mathematics education with the K-12 community. The program is to facilitate undergraduate mathematics and science majors (the Teacher Scholars) to experience time in the K-12 classrooms and introduce them to the rewards of considering teaching as a career. Partnership activities are characterized by collaborative inquiry,, mentoring and use of shared resources yielding multiple benefits that sustain the relationship. Common elements are involved in evolving these programs will be presented and three liberal arts colleges of the eight involved in the program present their variations on the theme. A "How to do it" booklet will be distributed to the session participants.

Report:

The final presentation was about service learning as it can be used successfully to enhance the training of future STEM teachers, attract undergraduates to K-12 teaching, and reach out to current K-12 teachers in the local community. The programs focus on building interactive links between "teacher scholars" (future teachers), STEM faculty, and K-12 students. The driving goals of the programs focus on what K-12 STEM teachers should be like; how they should approach teaching; continue learning, link to local resources (often a college or university); and most importantly connect with their students.

There can be a great deal of flexibility in how this type of service learning occurs. The flexibility also implies a flexibility in program cost. One starts to consider that a small-scale program could be run "on a shoestring." A final goal has to be the building of community. These questions need attention: How does one choose the teacher scholars? How are teachers and K-12 students identified? What are the costs? How do you evaluate? Another important aspect of the program was the involvement of the education department/college, in addition to the discipline-specific department.

From a psychologist's point of view, the service learning programs appear to be powerful tools for increasing the numbers of incoming undergraduates considering STEM fields and also for producing a "STEM-literate" public. The real value of such programs may not be tapped yet. Younger children (really beginning as infants and toddlers) are more "natural scientists;" why not focus on future elementary teachers and enhancement in the K-5 classrooms?

Resource:

Report: ICO Teacher Scholar Partnerships 2001-2003