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Students Gain Experience, Boost Success Through Service Learning

SPCH 1311 students at this spring's Austin Hunger CROP Walk, where they spoke to participants about global issues.

At this spring’s Austin CROP Hunger Walk, held at Camp Mabry, it was impossible to miss the ACC students. They lined the route in bright green shirts, some with large posters – sharing with the 900 walkers information about important topics such as poverty in the Dominican Republic, the water crisis in Africa, and the slow recovery after Hurricane Sandy.
For their Introduction to Speech Communication class (SPCH 1311), taught by assistant professor Theresa Glenn, the students applied a formal problem-solving method to global issues. On the day of the annual walk, students educated participants on their topics.
“A lot of the walkers weren’t even aware of some of the issues that we were talking about,” says student Jazmyn Phillips. “It makes me feel good to know we’re educating them on such important topics.”
It’s all part of service learning, a teaching method that combines project learning and community service with academic instruction. Through service learning projects, students provide a service to a non-profit community agency and are then graded on their ability to demonstrate a critical analysis of their experience as it relates to the class objectives.
“Service learning is the perfect way for students to realize the direct application of their studies at ACC,” Glenn says. “For my class, the students were able to take very academic concepts and apply it to real-world problems.”
By applying what they learn in the classroom, students are also improving their chances of academic success. Research shows that students enrolled in classes with a service learning component have higher grades and better class attendance. They are also more likely to complete their courses.

ACC student Danielle Boissat speaks to CROP Walk participants about the hunger crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa.

“Service learning students are more engaged in their coursework, because they’re bringing their school books to life,” says Dr. Lillian Huerta, director of service learning/civic engagement at ACC. “Service learning also helps faculty create connections with their students, which can really make a difference when it comes to student success.”
Service learning also provides students a way to get involved in their community. By becoming civically engaged while still in college, they’re more likely to stay involved even after graduation, Huerta says.
“When you’re out there and you’re interacting with the community, it makes everything more real to you,” Huerta says. “By connecting with their community, students become more aware of what’s happening around them and how they can help bring about change.”
For SPCH 1311 student Danielle Boissat, working on her service learning project helped her decide what she wanted to do after college – join the Peace Corps.
“I had always thought about joining the Peace Corps, but doing this project made me realize it was what I meant to do,” Boissat says. “The Peace Corps is involved in the Sahel region of West Africa, which is what I did my project on, so hopefully I can take the research I did for this project one step further and actually make a difference.”
Learn more about service learning opportunities at austincc.edu/service, or by contacting Huerta at 223.3774 or lhuerta@austincc.edu.

posted in: ACC Newsroom, Banner Stories, Current Students Feature, Faculty and Staff Feature


One Response to “Students Gain Experience, Boost Success Through Service Learning”

  1. Lillian Huerta says:

    Thank you for your hard work, Katie. I encourage faculty to let me know if they are interested in taking advantage of this wonderful teaching methodology. Sincerely, Dr. Lillian M Huerta