Service Learning faculty lecture deemed a ‘greatly informative session”


Photo credit: Elizabeth Rhaney

Photo credit: Elizabeth Rhaney
Photo credit: Elizabeth Rhaney

By Gregory Simpson, Staff Writer

This month’s faculty lecture was done in a unique way, a tandem lecture, given by both Dr. Maya R. Clark, and Dr. April R. Garrity. Both are assistant professors in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program teaching graduate level classes.

The lecture titled Maximizing Learning: Increasing Learner Outcomes Through Service Learning, focused on service learning and how it could be further incorporated into the curriculum of degree programs.

Maya and Garrity mentioned how service learning aligns perfectly with Armstrong’s strategic plan.

They also mentioned how to service learning helps students realize potential as productive citizens and how high quality learning exercises in diverse learning atmospheres allow for progression.

Mirari Elcoro, an associate professor of psychology at Armstrong said “The lecture was a greatly informative session on how to set up service learning and is very relevant to any discipline, for the students and the faculty.”

Both Clark and Garrity have been doing their service learning projects for a long time. Dr. Garrity started a group called CHATS, Communication Help for Adults After Stroke, for the students in her graduate level classes.

The module is stretched out over 12 weeks where the students are split into 2 groups and plan events and activities for the clients on a bi weekly basis.

The intentions of the initiative are to give real world professional experiences and lend concrete examples to draw and reach conclusions in a reflective format.

CHATS has also served as a source for the development of faculty scholarships, and program enhancement.

While Dr. Garrity’s program deals with adults recovering from debilitating illnesses.

Dr. Clark’s project PALS, Promoting Academic Language and Literacy Skills, is involved with preschool children at the St. Mary’s Children Center. The main goal is to foster a sense of advocacy for children at risk for communication disorders.

The program runs simultaneously with the CHATS program in Garrity’s class, where once a week the groups are with the PALS clients and the next they are with CHATS.

“We teach the same 20 students, so it involves some working together as far as scheduling and timing,” Garrity said.

Among the attendees of the SL lecture were Dr. Jane Wong, interim dean at the college of sciences and technology, and Carol Cox who is the director of finance in the provost office.

They were interested in getting to know how service learning was implemented into the program with such success. “It was great to learn about two specific SLC courses on campus and how it reaffirms points to the students,” Dr. Wong said.

“It’s important that students go into the community, but also this meets the standards of employers & involves real world experiences,” Cox said.

Despite being a member of the faculty for a number of years at Armstrong, this was the first time either Dr. Clark or Dr. Garrity had done a faculty lecture on campus before.

“We felt fully supported. Several of the faculty members who showed up mentioned to us that they were going to be here in advance, and it was less like talking to colleagues and more like talking to friends,” Dr. Garrity said. Both professors displayed a strong sense of camaraderie  Dr. Clark said it “felt less-like a lecture and more like a sharing and discussion.”