Service-learning classes fulfill core community requirements

Changes in Butler University’s core curriculum sparked an increase in the number of service-learning courses offered to students as they start to enroll for the spring 2012 semester.

More than 30 of Butler’s courses offered for the spring 2012 semester have service-learning components.

The  core curriculum now includes a service-learning requirement for any sophomores, freshmen and incoming students.

Butler is on trend with other universities and colleges of similar size that have emphasized civic engagement as part of the required curriculum, according to a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

“Now service-learning courses are institutionally recognized as something valuable and important for students to do, and there is a deeper commitment by the university to have them continue,” said Donald Braid, director of the Center for Citizenship and Community.

The classes are a way for students to give service to their community, as well as to see how outside experience contributes to learning, Braid said.

Each course requires a minimum of 20 hours of work off campus, but some instructors may ask for more.
Sophomore Zach Baldwin, middle/secondary education major, helps students learning English as a second language at Ben Davis High School.

”It’s interesting to hear the views these students have on American society since they are from different countries,” Baldwin said. “But at times it can also be difficult to relate my experiences at the school back to my class work.”

Senior Eric Shoemaker is not required to take a service-learning course but thought it would be a different experience.

He is currently enrolled in the service-learning in Spanish course taught by Spanish instructor Liliana Torres-Goens.

A part of the experience he said he really enjoys is being able to develop a relationship with  students at George Washington High School.

“Right now I’m working with certain students, trying to build their confidence with speaking English,” Shoemaker said.

Torres-Goens said she has been teaching these courses for about three or four years and hasn’t heard anything negative. For her class, they have weekly meetings to discuss assigned readings, personal journals and papers.

“Students are very interested, and they find out more about themselves during and after the process,” Torres-Goens said.

Arthur Hochman, professor of early elementary education, teaches a course titled “Self and Service” with Bonnie Brown, associate professor of pharmacy practice.

“It’s not just about sending people out to do charity work,” Hochman said. ”There’s a reflective nature about it in which you’re learning through the work you’re doing out in the field.  Students may like it because it’s a true sense of utilizing knowledge.”

-Additional reporting by Jill McCarter

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