Service-Learning Program Allows Students the Opportunity to Give Back

In less than six months, Lone Star College-Tomball students contributed over 14,000 hours of community service to local organizations through the college’s service-learning initiative. Independent Sector’s Value of Volunteer Time, values each volunteer hour in the State of Texas at $21.91. This means, through this academically-based program, LSC-Tomball students contributed over $300,000 worth of service hours to the local community.

Service-learning is a teaching method that combines community service with academic coursework. The goal of service-learning is to engage and further enhance learning outcomes for students through real world experiences. “Service-learning provides an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom through application in a real-world context. It encourages students to problem solve and to be involved in a creative, hands-on learning process as related to the stated outcomes of a course.  All of this together helps ensure long term retention of the knowledge gained through the classroom and supplemental service experience,” said Lee Ann Nutt, LSC-Tomball vice president of instruction.

Leading the way this past semester were students in occupational therapy assistant (OTA) courses who each served 640 hours in the community as part of their service-learning experience. For example, OTA students attended Camp Can Do, a weekend camp for adults with multiple sclerosis, and assisted a camper for the entire weekend. The students were able to apply their classroom learning by working with the campers to assist with activities of daily living as well as leisure activities. Biology II students also had the opportunity to enhance their learning outside of the classroom through a service-learning project by removing invasive species from a local wetland.

“Many college students are already familiar with volunteerism,” said Clark Friesen, professor of speech communication and faculty service-learning coordinator.  “What’s unique about service-learning is that the students learn from their experience and become more engaged overall in community affairs.”  He said faculty members who use this form of teaching draw the learning from the service through the use of reflective assignments such as journals, class discussions or presentations.

For more information on service-learning at LSC-Tomball, contact Friesen at Clark.W.Friesen@lonestar.edu or at 281.401.1807.