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The community-engaged pedagogy of service-learning is an integral teaching strategy aligned with the mission of Iona College and a Christian Brothers’ education. Service-learning can take place in any department, major or class as is deemed appropriate by individual faculty members in collaboration with their department chairs and the Office of Academic Civic & Global Engagement.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss a service-learning course option please contact Dayna Richardson drichardson@iona.edu.

What is Service-Learning?

In a service-learning course, students acquire knowledge and develop skills based on academically rigorous content through scholarly literature, faculty lectures, independent research, group activities and a variety of other educative experiences. These knowledge and skill sets are then paired with and applied to what a community partner group (public and nonprofit agencies; civic, charitable, and governmental organizations) has identified as a need for the community it serves.

Courses with a service-learning component can be offered in any academic discipline, focus on any applicable academic topic and be facilitated by any faculty regardless of rank, position or years of experience.

Community partners are central co-instructors in the educative process. These partners work with Iona and our individual faculty members to design and implement service activities that enable students to apply newly developed knowledge and skill sets in a way that provides meaningful outcomes for all parties.

Service-learning pedagogy emphasizes that community voice, knowledge, and identity play a formative role in defining what service initiatives are implemented. Our intention is that relationships with community partners are “reciprocal.” We commit ourselves to never take more from a community partner than is given, or to give more to that community partner than is learned from the experience.

We believe that all service-based initiatives must honor the values, perspectives, identities, and knowledge sets of community partners. Our community partners identify the need that our faculty and students will partner in serving. It is not the role of the College to decide in isolation what a community needs or how these needs will be met!

Intentional reflection is a cornerstone of service-learning pedagogy. Scholarship on experiential and service-learning pedagogies consistently asserts that students cannot be expected to perform an action (such as service) and subsequently walk away with significant insights. However, when the activity is paired with reflective components, the potential that students experience significant learning is greatly increased.

Every academic service-learning course at Iona College includes a reflection component that seeks to equip learners to move beyond surface level understandings of complex social issues and facilitates deep critical thinking, academic learning, and engaged citizenship. Reflection often manifests itself in written form, but other strategies are encouraged – including large and small group discussion, artistic expressions such as poetry, painting or drawing, and multimedia presentations. Regardless of modality, a service-learning experience is not complete without a reflection component.

Experienced Faculty

Experienced service-learning faculty members who can share their experiences with you include:

  • Nadine Cosby, Ph.D., Media & Strategic Communication
  • Teresa Delgado, Ph.D., Religious Studies
  • Jennifer Gerometta, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Speech Communication Studies
  • Dennis Gunn, CFC, Education
  • Tony Kelso, Ph.D., Media & Strategic Communication
  • Joshua Klein, Ph.D., Criminal Justice & Sociology
  • Tricia Mulligan, Ph.D., Provost's Office and Political Science
  • Carl Procario-Foley, Ph.D., Mission and Ministry
  • Natalie Redcross, Ph.D., Media & Strategic Communication
  • Michelle Veyvoda, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Speech Communication Studies

Faculty Service-Learning Reflections

I started using service-learning as a teaching strategy because…
it is an exciting opportunity to use an active and impactful pedagogy. Students learn a lot in the classroom, by reading, writing, thinking, debating. They learn even more from applying what they learn in a life context. They synthesize what they are learning differently, reflectively. Students bring so much to serving others through their unique training and position and receive much in return.

I have found that service-learning has benefited my students by…
allowing them to experience civic engagement and global citizenship. These concepts become real, a part of their overall academic and life experiences. Through their actions, students understand the importance of community and that they have much to offer.

I have or currently use service-learning in the following classes...
Politics and Poverty in the Dominican Republic and Haiti; Politics and Development of India; International Law.

The service-learning project I am most proud of is…
working with our community partner, Crossroads, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. This service project allowed our students to work with a variety of groups including the Haitian community, children, prison inmates, dump dwellers, recovering addicts and religious congregations. Students connected on a very deep level with the people we met and were inspired and motivated to engage in advocacy projects upon their return to the U.S.

If a faculty new to the pedagogy were to ask me if they should consider using service-learning, I would say…
YES! It is an enriching, challenging approach to teaching that will reach students on a deeper level than any classroom experience alone. It prompts students to synthesize what they know on a much deeper level and demonstrates that they can in fact move the world.

I think my teaching has benefitted by incorporating service-learning because…
I am more aware of and sensitive to how students react to academic content and life experiences. As I have experienced many “firsts” in working with the students and our community partners, I think it has made me a more thoughtful, empathetic and effective teacher and scholar.
 

I started using service-learning as a teaching strategy because…
In engaging students in many service activities such as the Midnight Run, Habitat, etc., I was finding that our post-service reflections sometimes lacked the depth of analysis that our community experiences warranted. Academic service-learning has provided the context for a “deeper dig” into understanding the complexities of injustices such as homelessness, discrimination and poverty.

I have found that service-learning has benefited my students by…
Academic service-learning has provided my students greater self-awareness and insight as they step out of their comfort zones and ask questions they have never explored. Also, it provides a context to further explore the causes of systemic injustice.

I witnessed student transformation when…
Through service-learning, I have witnessed numerous students really question their major and their future career goals as well as opt to do a year or two of service after undergraduate studies.

I have or currently use service-learning in the following classes...
RST 326 (Theology of Christian Service in New Rochelle and in Ireland) and RST 370 (Contemporary Peacemakers in India)

The service-learning project I am most proud of is…
My India students, having returned recently, are now researching issues of human rights, race and spirituality that were raised in India, and they are now preparing for a presentation and celebration with the wider Iona community.

If a faculty new to the pedagogy were to ask me if they should consider using service-learning, I would say…
Yes, but I think it works best if faculty roll up their sleeves and work alongside students in this engaged learning style.

I think my teaching has benefited by incorporating service-learning because…
It has helped me honor more intentionally the unique wisdom and insight each student brings to the class. Also, I believe academic service-learning helps me capture more concretely the practical component of pedagogy that is modeled so well in the educational philosophy of Edmund Rice.

I started using service-learning as a teaching strategy because…
building relationships in the community and witnessing the experiences of members in the community that students will serve as speech pathologists makes me, and them, better at what we do.

I have found that service-learning has benefited my students by…
adding value and meaning to their academic experience.

I have or currently use service-learning in the following classes...
Aural Rehabilitation, Phonetics and Intro to Oral Communication.

The service-learning project I am most proud of is…
Delivering treatment-to-go bags (toys and at-home treatment plans) to families in need with children diagnosed with hearing loss.

If a faculty new to the pedagogy were to ask me if they should consider using service-learning, I would say…
Jump in! Do it! But be flexible and encourage your students to be flexible. Just like life, working with a community partner requires compromise and patience. The payoff is remarkable.

Contact Us

Dayna Richardson

Coordinator for Civic & Global Engagement