Drs. Michele Fazio, Virginia Garnett, and Abigail Mann led a discussion about learning objectives and outcomes for various service-learning courses at a departmental faculty colloquium; students who have participated in projects this semester also joined the conversation. Fazio, Garnett, and Mann actively engaged students in a variety of service-learning projects, and each of them noted the benefits that students receive from this type of experiential learning.
Dr. Garnett’s students wrote and produced promotional brochures for the Pembroke Housing Authority (PHA), and the best examples will be used by the PHA to promote its services to the local community. This project allowed students to put the skills they had learned in composition in to play, forcing them to imagine a real audience for their writing.
Dr. Mann’s and Fazio’s classes allowed students to understand how certain policies and perceptions make some communities vulnerable, focusing particularly on communities they themselves might be considered part of as college students. While they started by having students think about Title IX and how it is enacted on campus, they wanted them to broaden their understanding of why a community might need service and what sorts of services and why. Drs. Mann and Fazio encouraged students to select their own projects based on their interests and passions. For assignments, students analyzed and proposed changes for services currently offered to various vulnerable communities, which helped the students to think about service in a more concrete way. Dr. Fazio explained that a composition course is a perfect place to incorporate service-learning because writing is tied directly to audience, and service projects help students understand audience in an innovative way.
Dr. Fazio is also currently designing a project focused on outreach to farmworkers in coordination with Student Action with Farmworkers based in Durham. Dr. Fazio noted that this will be a great way to forge connections with other organizations, which could lead to new internship opportunities for UNCP students.
Service-learning is an important part of the curriculum in many English courses, and both instructors and students reap the benefits of getting involved in service and using those experiences as the impetus for writing.