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2015 Service-Learning Symposium: Improving Student Achievement and Community Wellness One Meal at a Time

2014 Service-Learning Symposium

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Improving Student Achievement and Community Wellness One Meal at a Time

Authors: Dr. Patricia Kraft, Dr. Sarah Hartman, and Dr. Lydia Watkins


While our faculty first learned about service-learning and tried to generate ideas that would not only help the community but also benefit the students while enhancing the course objectives, we were stumped.  Just as with all nursing schools, we already work in community settings with the clinical components of our courses, so it was challenging to think of additional ideas on top of the current clinical experiences. We had good ideas, but they didn’t seem to enhance the course objectives.  I see many service learning courses do just this – serve as excellent opportunities to give back to the community, help the student to learn the importance of giving back, but often the projects seem to miss the piece of enhancing the course objectives.  After holding several brainstorming sessions, we began to generate excellent ideas that would benefit all parties: the community, student, and their learning of the course material.  The students are able to address almost all of their course objectives throughout their service-learning projects.  The students have commented that they learn so much from their projects including researching the need for various topics, reviewing evidence-based practice related to that topic, project development, collaboration with each other and the community partner, leadership skills, execution of their teaching project, etc.  They are surprised at how the service-learning piece of the course truly helps them attain their course objectives, and they are excited to be able to help their community by using the nursing knowledge and skills they have already attained while in school.  We want to share our experiences with the audience, and help them to see how to look at their course objectives while determining possibilities for their service learning projects.  The Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences as well as 2 students will join me as we discuss the project development, threading of service-learning through a discipline-specific curriculum, and touch on the students aspect of what they learned from their experience and how it will impact their involvement with the community in the future.