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Making Connections: Service-Learning in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology

    Author: Gail S. Begley1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 02 December 2013
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Mugar Life Sciences Building, Rm. 134, 360 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115. Phone: 617-373-3491. Fax: 617-373-2724. E-mail: g.begley@neu.edu.
    • ©2013 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 213-220. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
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    Abstract:

    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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References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action[Online.] http://visionandchange.org/finalreport.
2. Astin AW, Vogelgesang LJ, Ikeda EK, Yee JA2000How service learning affects studentsHigher Educ. Res. Inst., UCLALos Angeles, CA
3. Axin WG, Pearse LD2006Mixed method data collection strategiesCambridge University PressNew York, NY
4. Begley GS2012Vision and Change–ing a first-year biology classroomJ Microbiol Biol Educ13[Online.] http://jmbe.asm.org/index.php/jmbe/article/view/381.
5. Bringle R, Hatcher J1995A service-learning curriculum for facultyMichigan J Community Service-Learning2112122
6. Denzin NK, Lincoln YS2000The SAGE handbook of qualitative research
7. Eppler MA, Ironsmith M, Dingle SH, Errickson MA2011Benefits of service-learning for freshmen college students and elementary school childrenJ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning11102115
8. Eyler J, Giles DE1999Where’s the learning in service-learning?Jossey-Bass, IncSan Francisco, CA
9. Felten P, Clayton PH2011Service-learningNew Directions for Teaching and Learning128758410.1002/tl.470 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tl.470
10. Glaser BG, Strauss AL1967The discovery of grounded theoryAldine Publishing CompanyChicago, IL
11. Kuh G2008High-impact educational practicesAssociation of American Colleges and UniversitiesWashington, D.C
12. Larios-Sanz M, Simmons AD, Bagnall RA, Rosell RC2011Implementation of a service-learning module in medical microbiology and cell biology classes at an undergraduate liberal arts universityJ Microbiol Biol Educ122937236537363577226
13. Levesque-Bristol C, Knapp TD, Fisher BJ2010The effectiveness of service-learning: it’s not always what you thinkJ Experiential Educ3320822410.5193/JEE33.3.208 http://dx.doi.org/10.5193/JEE33.3.208
14. Novak JM, Markey V, Allen M2007Evaluating cognitive outcomes of service learning in higher education: a meta-analysisComm Res Rep2414915710.1080/08824090701304881 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08824090701304881
15. Warren JL2012Does service-learning increase student learning? A meta-analysisMichigan J Community Service-Learning185661
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
2013-12-02
2017-11-18

Abstract:

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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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Results of standard university course evaluations comparing the service-learning course, Inquiries in Cell and Molecular Biology, to all undergraduate biology courses offered in the same semester. Average scores over a three-year period are reported. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean.

* Indicates differences significant at < 0.05 in a Student’s -test. For ‘learned a lot’ the -value was 0.06.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 213-220. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

Qualitative analysis of students’ summary blog text: percent of total comments. (A) Three major themes emerged from a grounded theory analysis of blog text: biology knowledge and skills, personal development, and community engagement. (B) Minor themes within the biology knowledge and skills category.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 213-220. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.596
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