Service Learning at COD a Win-Win Rondeau: Society, Students Win -BYLN-

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

Service Learning at COD a Win-Win Rondeau: Society, Students Win -BYLN-


Happy holidays! In my last two visits with you on these pages, I have had the privilege of writing about my views on the true value of higher education and the contribution general education courses make to the development of the whole person while earning a college degree.

This month, during a season that celebrates giving, the subject of learning through service seems like a perfect topic to address.

While winter has not officially arrived, we at College of DuPage already are registering students for our spring term. One of the options is to enroll in a Service Learning class. The program provides value to students, faculty and -- especially -- to the 1 million residents in our district. As the second-largest regionally accredited institution of higher education in Illinois, it is more important than ever to remember who we are: a community college -- a college of and for the community.

We have an obligation to provide services that enhance the lives of our community members as well as our students.

This is what Service Learning does. The program, which involves more than 500 students a year, provides more than 7,000 hours of service to area nonprofits. Since the program's formation 17 years ago, COD students have contributed nearly $4 million in labor costs to help 163 local nonprofit organizations (source: independentsector.com).

Numbers aside, the true benefit comes in "the doing." The magic comes when learning, serving, reflecting and better understanding a world outside of self comes together.

Service learning is service work with an academic purpose. Students are first prepared by their professors to head out to the tasks at hand -- they are trained to learn to serve within the community.

They then bring their experiences back to the classroom to review, reflect and apply the hands-on skills they have learned and, with the

assistance of their instructors, weave this giving of self into the curriculum.

Courses offered through Service Learning range from Introduction to Human Services to English Composition to Leadership Development, Patient Care Skills for Sonographers and Small Group Communication. The service aspect of this program is directly related to the theories and issues discussed in class.

Getting outside the walls of traditional education opens doors to experiences that help our students master course work while making a difference in their community.

The results of their participation often surprise the students themselves. Working with others enhances their ability to develop solutions to needs in our community, enriches the lives of those they serve, and develops intimate and important skills that will help them in the future no matter what career path they choose. …

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