Service-Learning & Science

Street Team member and former S-LTA Noa Golan reflects on how faculty member Dr. Begley provides an excellent example for the integration of service-learning into the College of Science. 

By Noa Golan

11146435_10204841651733920_5781902774348186025_o (2)My very first semester of college, I was introduced to the wonderful world of service-learning through my Inquires in cell and molecular biology course with Dr. Begley. Her passion for teaching biology through service inspired me to be as involved in the S-L world as I am today. I did, however, get to think this semester: why is her course currently the only science course that has integrated service-learning? This line of questioning led me to chat with Dr. Begley directly and ask her a bit about why service-learning isn’t as prominent in the College of Science (COS), and if she had any advice for COS faculty who are contemplating integrating service-learning into their classrooms.

The first point that she brought up when asked why she thought service-learning was so sparse in the college was that she thought the faculty already felt pressured for time in terms of all of the material that a course has to cover. While this is a valid concern, my personal line of thinking is that service-learning doesn’t have to detract from class time. Dr. Begley agreed that with the help of phenomenal S-LTAs, she is still able to have ample time to cover the material that she needs to cover in her classes and that her students have the added educational benefit of engaging in course-relevant service.

Personally, elaborating on this point from my own experience both as Dr. Begley’s student and as her S-LTA, I can attest to the fact that not only did I learn important skills in Dr. Begley’s class, but I actually had a chance to apply the knowledge and skills that I learned during my service. As a senior, there are very few classes where I can say that I still remember the course material or really any skills that we learned in class (sorry orgo lab!). But 4 years later, I can proudly say that because of Dr. Begley’s class I can now read a scientific paper, I understand the concept of evolution, and I understand the importance of scientific specificity of language. While Dr. Begley had a huge hand in teaching me these skills and concepts, I am very confident that the reason I still remember them today is that instead of learning them for an exam, I taught them to a group of girls at Science Club for Girls.

So to all you COS faculty who are concerned that service-learning will interfere negatively with your class, or who fear that saying yes to service-learning means copious amounts of work, I am here to offer enthusiastic encouragement to explore how you can integrate service-learning into your curriculum! With the support of service-learning staff, S-LTA’s, the Street Team, and already involved faculty, you will be able to bring the benefits of service-learning into your classroom with plenty of guidance. Furthermore, not only will you still have ample time to get through your curriculum, but by having your students apply what they are learning, you will ensure that those lessons stay engrained. Lastly, by committing to service-learning, you become a part of a truly great community of students, faculty, and community partners!

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