July 30th, 2010

Last Wednesday, APP hosted our annual higher education alliance meeting and invited our members to discuss faculty incentives for service-learning. Our panelists – Dr. Cindy Walker from Faulkner University, Dr. Nancy Francisco Stuart from Jacksonville State University, and Norma-May Isakow of UAB – shared strategies for getting professors and administrators in Alabama’s 2- and 4-year colleges and universities involved with service-learning.

Dr. Stuart, a professor of social work, shared how her career at JSU had been positively impacted by paving the way for service-learning at JSU while creating a productive partnership with the American Cancer Society. She also described how campuses could miss significant opportunities to respond to real-world events by not taking the time to engage in the crises that affect their local communities.

Dr. Walker, Director of Quality Improvement at Faulkner, told us that working with professors and understanding that they already have a lot of demands is key to getting different departments involved. “It’s important that faculty don’t feel like they’re forced to do things or left out there on their own to figure it out – we’re actually providing resources for them.”

Norma-May Isakow, director of UAB’s Office of Service-Learning, described their rubric for evaluating service-learning courses and explained their financial incentives for professors and departments to get involved. “My goal is to raise service-learning as a pedagogy, as a way of teaching and serving, across the University,” she said, adding “This is a recognized way of improving student performance, getting them to stay and getting them to have a meaningful experience.”

We agree. Service-learning is one of the best ways we can support our higher education alliance in getting their students engaged in fighting Alabama’s systemic poverty. Meaningful service experiences help students connect in-class learning with real world situations, while giving back to their local communities and learning that everyone in our society is affected by poverty.

Norma May Isakow, Nancy Francisco Stewart, Cindy Walker, APP Executive Director Kristina Scott

Posted by Robyn Hyden