Service-Learning & Civic Engagement

2009 Service-Learning Fellows

John Ault
A Professor of Psychology who has been teaching at SUU for twenty years, John Ault has served also with distinction in many roles as a committee chair, department chair, and interim college dean.  Since 1991, John has developed an intensive program of clinical practicum courses whose students have performed an estimated 900,000 hours of critically-needed community service.  Recently, John successfully pursued official service-learning course designation for Psychology 3800.

Brief Overview:
John is recognized this year for formalizing service-learning components in PSYC 3800, Professional Roles, Ethics, and Clinical Practices.  In his detailed course syllabus and supporting materials, John spells out expectations and requirements that include a service-learning project that helps students to connect theory and application.  These experiences help each student to develop their own professional mission statement and service record as they perform a minimum of ten service hours.   Working under John’s supervision, psychology students have worked with a number of community groups and agencies that include Tutoring and Teaching Life Skills to Piute Children, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center, Family Support Center of Southwestern Utah, Iron and Washington County Schools, and Youth and Family with Promise.  Many of these community programs would not have functioned, or would have operated at a much reduced level, if not for participation by SUU students.  In summarizing his program, John writes that “students are involved with very real, often very serious, human problems. . . .  By the end of their service experience, they almost always have a strong sense of accomplishment and having made a real difference in the lives of the people they have served.”

Rita Osborn
Rita Osborn serves as the Associate Director of the Utah Center for Rural Health.  Starting five years ago, she established the Rural Health Scholars Program, a multifaceted enhancement program for undergraduate students aspiring to careers in the health professions.  RHS students have enjoyed outstanding acceptance rates into medical, dental, and pharmacy schools along with expanded opportunities in other health care fields.  Community service is central to these students’ experiences and the program’s success. 

Brief Overview:
Rita is recognized this year for her effective use of service-learning in two courses:  Service-Learning for Pre-Nursing and Pre-Allied Health Students (SCI 2120) and Biology Co-op Education (BIO 4840).  In both of these one-credit courses, students are expected to complete thirty (30) hours of service in health-related community programs.  Students participate in several well-developed and varied reflection exercises that include a personal journal, written and oral reflections, individual and group work, and midterm and end-of-semester reflections.  In addition to providing hundreds of hours of service at Cedar City’s Low-Income Health Clinic and the Valley View Medical Center, students have served the Kolob Care Center, the Family Support Center, the Doctor’s Free Clinic in St. George, and the Southwest Community Health Clinic.  Recent efforts have expanded to Enterprise and Beaver, Utah.  Rita acknowledges support from community partners such as Valley View Medical Center that play a key role in sponsoring and evaluating service-learning among her students.  She writes that, “as future health care providers, these students will be chosen for graduate school with an eye towards their sense of civic responsibility.”  In addition, they “also learn about the real world challenges facing our health care system, including the lack of access for certain population groups.  Countless times, their preconceptions about health care change.”

David Shwalb
A new addition this year to SUU’s faculty, David Shwalb is Associate Professor of Psychology.  He comes to SUU with ample teaching and research experience, and currently offers an array of courses in infant, child, adolescent, and adult development, along with cognitive psychology.  A Past President of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, David spent nine years living and working Japan, including stints as a teacher.

Brief Overview:
David is recognized this year for developing a service-learning component within an upper-level class, Adult Development and Aging (PSYC 3230).  He plans to add similar requirements in courses that address infant and child development and adolescent development (PSYC 3210 and PSYC 3220, respectively).  Students are asked to devote at least five hours of service to an elderly person and write a two-page reflection paper about their experiences.  In addition to a succinct syllabus, Professor Shwalb provides students with a detailed explanation of service-learning, feedback forms for both service providers and beneficiaries, and a “Service-Learning Project Grading Rubric.”  Students are encouraged to work with volunteer coordinators at two local locations:  Kolob Regional Care Center and Emerald Pointe Assisted Living Center.  Noting the pressing social need to improve contact and communication between generations, David writes that service-learning will “enable students to relate their classroom learning and readings to the lives of real people.”  Moreover, students learn that this service is “one way to repay the debt to the elderly people who built our community.”