Use of an Artificial Insemination Clinic as a Service Learning Project: A Case Study

By Brown, Erin G.; Payne, Emily | NACTA Journal, June 2017 | Go to article overview

Use of an Artificial Insemination Clinic as a Service Learning Project: A Case Study


Brown, Erin G., Payne, Emily, NACTA Journal


Introduction

Service learning combines course instruction with community service (Heiselt and Wolverton, 2009) and are designed to challenge students to integrate their course curriculum with local needs of the community. These projects allow students to explore unfamiliar areas while gaining insight and knowledge into the community in which they live. During involvement in the project, students are able to learn and develop academically (Maiga and Westrom, 2006). For the service learning project to benefit the students, there must be a direct link to the course objectives. The strong link between course objectives and application of course knowledge improves students academically (Lambert et al., 2004), stimulates higher order thinking (Lambert et al., 2004), and makes the students more responsible for their own learning (Maiga and Westrom, 2006). It is often difficult for students to see the "real-world" application of course material; therefore, service learning projects can provide the necessary connections between academic course material and "real-world" application.

For service learning to be effective, application into the "real-world" requires community involvement or a community partner. A service learning project can create relationships between the university and the community or stakeholders. These relationships can improve perceptions about the university and its academic programs (Mantooth and Fritz, 2006). Many have reported that students participating in service learning projects become aware of their communities' needs and result in the student's long-term involvement in community service after participation in service learning projects (Mantooth and Fritz, 2006; Barkley, 1999; Brady et al., 2005). Although agriculture students have been able to meet the needs of their local communities in therapeutic riding, animal management, and dairy linear classification courses (Brady et al., 2005; Maiga and Westrom, 2006) there are still few reports of service-learning in animal science courses.

Like other universities, Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) Office of Student Affairs formed a service learning committee to assist in educating students and faculty on service learning projects and courses. To encourage faculty to incorporate service learning projects in their courses, grants have been available to assist with project expenses for over 6 years and faculty are eligible for teaching excellence awards in service learning. There are numerous courses with service learning projects as part of their curriculum across the SFA campus. The Agriculture Department has two animal science courses and one horticulture course with a service learning project as part of the curriculum. The animal science artificial insemination course has included a service learning project since 2009. The objective of this paper is to discuss how service learning was incorporated into an artificial insemination course.

Methods

This course was developed over 10 years ago to instruct students in the use and practice of artificial insemination in livestock. Each fall semester, 18-24 students are enrolled in the course and laboratory. Students are instructed in artificial insemination techniques in cattle, swine and goats. Since 2009, the university Office of Student Affairs has provided grants to faculty to incorporate service learning into curriculum in their courses. The $500 grant could be utilized to purchase necessary supplies for the service learning project. The grant funding for this project provided the necessary artificial insemination equipment to conduct the project.

Beginning in the fall of 2009, students were required to complete the service learning project in the course to successfully pass the course. The service the students provided to high school age 4-H and FFA participants was to train them in artificial insemination. The students selected their topic and then prepared oral presentations in reproductive anatomy, diseases, nutrition and body condition scoring, estrus synchronization and semen handling as well as artificial insemination techniques. …

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