Making Connections: Service-Learning in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology †
This report describes service-learning in a first-year majors biology course in which students serve throughout the semester with community partners for an average of 25 hours/student. All of the partnerships are based on providing engaging hands-on biology activities for youth in underserved urban areas surrounding the campus. Students in the course have designed new lessons and activities, supported biology labs, mentored younger students, and facilitated afterschool science clubs. Throughout the course, integration between the students’ service experience in the community and their learning in the course is emphasized. This is accomplished in multiple ways including class discussion, group activities, feedback from the instructor and teaching assistant, and weekly blogs. A three-year average of anonymous university-wide course evaluations suggested that students in this service-learning course considered their biology course to be highly rigorous. In both blogs and anonymous surveys students reported that their service and its integration with the course not only advanced their professional skills and sense of community engagement, but also enhanced their learning in biology.
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