Service-Learning & Civic Engagement

2010 Service-Learning Fellows

(In Alphabetical Order)

Service-learning is a curricular-based educational experience in which students participate in organized activities that meet community needs and then reflect upon their experiences, tying them to course content, a broader appreciation of their discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.  Each Fellow received a $750 honorarium and a handsome commemorative plaque awarded at the annual Student-Faculty Scholarship Recognition Event on April 21, 2010.

Lisa Assante
An assistant professor in the School of Business, Lisa Assante has made quite on impact on SUU and her program in Hospitality, Hotels and Resort Management.  Last year, Lisa was named SUU’s “Outstanding Educator” and she teaches two official service-learning courses within the School of Business.  Lisa and her students have been successful in raising funds for their projects through campus sales, grants, SUUSA awards, and course fees.

Brief Overview:
Dr. Lisa Assante’s service-learning work has reached out to Cedar City (Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center, Turning Point, Cub Scouts, military veterans from Iron County) and to Bryce Canyon National Park.  Lisa is recognized for her service-learning projects through HRHM 3110, Quantity Food Production, and HRHM 3600, Guest Services.  In the former course, Lisa’s students select a community partner, plan a quantity food event, create a menu and lesson plan, order and fabricate the food, teach the recipients a related lesson, apply for a grant or fundraise to offset expenses, and write a comprehensive reflection piece.  Similarly, students in HRHM 3600 select a community partner, find funding, and analyze their partner’s operations.  For three semesters, Lisa and students worked with Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City that included a six-hour training and development workshop, “The Leader’s Role in Unmatched Service.”  One student in that class later wrote:  “this was truly a service-learning class. I was able to get hands-on experience in the industry while learning objectives and using materials taught in the classroom.  By using multiple applications to the material I was learning to reinforce those objectives and behaviors within the industry.”  Another student wrote:  “The service-learning project and course content are like peanut butter and jelly, they just go together.” 

Laura Cotts
An assistant professor of Physical Sciences, Laura Cotts has had a long and successful career teaching physics and related lab courses at SUU.  As detailed in her course syllabi and teaching materials, Professor Cotts strives to make physics “fun” while also upholding academic rigor.  In her syllabus for the Physics Lab course, Physics 2015, Laura promises students “a better education and skills that will be invaluable in all aspects of life.” 

Brief Overview:
Professor Laura Cotts is formally recognized this year for her promoting service-learning in two lab classes, College Physics Laboratory I (PHYS 2015) and University Physics for Scientists and Engineers Laboratory I (PHYS 2215).  Students form into teams who design a science lesson to present to at least one elementary school classroom.  Students research the most effective ways to convey concepts to young children and then develop activities.  The final draft includes lesson objectives, plans, and a materials list.  Local school principals and teachers coordinated with Laura in choosing the most relevant and appropriate lessons.  Students have presented at Enoch, , South, East, North, Fiddlers’, and Parowan Elementary Schools, along with Cedar and Canyon View Middle Schools.  SUU students tried to convey the excitement of science and the importance of education.  Students wrote two-page reflection papers and teachers completed evaluation sheets.  Laura reports that “teaching a science lesson forces my student to think more carefully about the ideas they are learning in a physics lab.”  Since students were given some latitude in picking lessons and ideas, a few students offered lessons in other disciplines such as chemistry, ecology, and astronomy.  Finally, Laura writes that “The best part was reading the reflection papers of the physics students.  Many said that they initially thought this was a “dumb idea” and they were subsequently amazed at how much they and the children gained from the experience.  And every teacher in the schools answered “Yes, please” to the question “Should we do this again next year?”

Shobha Gurung
A native of Nepal, Dr. Shobha Gurung has enjoyed great success in her short time at SUU.  Last year, she was named the T-Bird Professor of the Year and remains very active as a scholar.  She has been energetic in promoting and integrating service-learning into the Sociology curriculum.

Brief Overview:
Dr. Shobha Gurung has introduced service-learning into introductory and advanced classes, ranging from SOC 1010 (Introduction to Sociology) and SOC 1020 (Social Problems) to SOC 4500 (Sociology of Health and Medicine) and SOC 4500 (Global Issues in Sociology).  Many of her course readings and assignments relate to the critical study of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and age.  As an example, students visit the Emerald Pointe Assisted Living Center and learn more about the impact of socioeconomic class on the retired community, realizing that economic resources are connected with the quality of care.  Similarly, students have performed service as the Iron County Care and Share Shelter where they appreciate the importance of social forces in shaping people’s choices and life chances.  In upper-level classes, students are exposed to policies and state agencies that shape health care and to issues related to globalization.  Some students in Spring 2009 worked with the Cedar City Rotary Club to learn about water development projects in Nepal while those in Spring 2010 assisted The Happy Factory.  For their reflection pieces, students have options among written assignments, class discussions, and PowerPoint presentations.  Professor Gurung summarizes her service-learning pedagogy:  “Service projects enable students to examine the lived realities of people’s live and reflect on how they can personally help improve the community in which they reside.” 

Jean Lopour
As a long-time Professor of Physical Education, Jean Lopour was one of the first faculty members at SUU to create an official service-learning course.  She is being recognized this year for her work in PE 3090, Adaptive Physical Education, that offers an imaginative approach to a sometimes overlooked community, individuals who are impaired/disabled. 

Brief Overview:
Students in Dr. Jean Lopour’s PE 3090 class perform a minimum of 24 hours in their service work with impaired/disabled individuals.  Settings include grades K-12 in Iron County schools, the Chrysallis Group Home, and the SUU swim program for the Turn Group.  Students seek appropriate activities and assignments by working with a mentor teacher who implements an IEP (Individual Education Plan).  In addition, for the past three semesters the PE 3090 class has sponsored a “Special Rodeo” for the participants in the local Diamond Z Arena.  Events have included “stick” horse, barrel racing, dummy roping, bucking bale riding, goat petting, and horseback riding.  SUU students are expected to connect their service back to academic resources and readings that include analysis of impairments and of the physical ability of individuals to overcome them.  For the past dozen years, Iron County school teachers who specialize in “Special Education” have been “very happy” to have the assistance of SUU students, according to Jean Lopour.  The Chrysallis Group has been cooperating with PE 3090 for about three years in which they visit campus on Fridays.  Students write reflection papers about what they learned that examines “their” students, explains the activities performed and progress made, and assesses changes in their own attitudes about working with disabled individuals.  Ultimately, SUU students “begin to realize the impaired/disabled individuals are just individuals who have strengths and weaknesses as the ‘normal’ population.”  Most recently, SU has participated in wheelchair basketball, the Polar Plunge in February, and Special Olympics. 

Cindy Wright
With three decades of experience at SUU, Dr. Cindy Wright has been an effective practitioner and proponent of service-learning for many  years.  Serving as a dean, department chair, and faculty member, Dr. Wright has shown imagination and persistence in integrating service-learning into nutrition classes, particularly NFS 4480, Community Nutrition.

Brief Overview:
In her Community Nutrition course, Dr. Cindy Wright identifies sites and projects where individual students can provide a food or nutrition-related service for at least 15 hours during the semester.  These organizations are not-for-profit and mostly run by volunteers.  General assignments center on preparing and cooking meals, stocking shelves, raising funds and food donations, and delivering food to home-bound elderly in the community.  In addition to the service-learning project above, students are expected to perform their own needs assessment to identify and complete a community project.  This may include teaching nutrition to public school students, providing grocery store tours, creating/maintaining nutrition blogs, or preparing monthly nutrition newsletters.  Using Kolb’s experiential learning model, the class has become an official service-learning class.  Besides using a work log, students are encouraged to include photographs, create a PowerPoint presentation, and write a short reflection paper.  Civic responsibility is enhanced, Cindy writes, because “Community Nutrition students are making effective strides to address the nutritional health and fitness of individuals and families.  Service-learning can provide opportunities for students to become active partners in addressing education and community concerns.”