An Engaged Program: A Glimpse into the Psychology Program - Dec 6, 2012 - Center for Academic Service-Learning - UW-Superior News and Events

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Center for Academic Service - Learning

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An Engaged Program: A Glimpse into the Psychology Program

Posted on Dec 6, 2012
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Jamie Blackwood and Amber Borck assist with an activity at Noahs Ark Daycare

Jamie Blackwood and Amber Borck assist with an activity at Noah's Ark Daycare

The Psychology Program at University of Wisconsin-Superior applied for and received an Engaged Department Grant from the Center for Academic Service-Learning in 2011.  This grant allowed for an increase in support to the Psychology Program to integrate Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) into its courses.  Each psychology major is now required to take a least one AS-L course before graduating.


Integrating AS-L into the Psychology Program

Dr. RaLynn Schmalzried started helping with this integration the day she was hired.  Schmalzried is a dedicated supporter of AS-L.  She feels her students benefit from directly witnessing the different ways children develop in the community.

Her students were placed with three community agencies; the Superior Middle School After School Tutoring Program, the Denfeld Academic Learning Center, and Noah's Ark Daycare.  A few students who commute to UW-Superior personally identified community agencies outside of the initial three agencies.  Subsequently, students served at Sunshine Daycare and Lil' Lumberjacks Learning Center.  Each student will serve with an agency for 15 hours this semester.


Life outside of the classroom

AS-L makes Schmalzried's course learning goals come to life outside of the classroom.  Her students often bring back questions that keep class discussions fresh and intriguing.  When they were studying language and reading development through coursework, the students who were serving at local daycares or learning centers shared what they experienced and saw at their community sites.  They all bring different experiences to class, described Schmalzried. 

The direct connection between the students' AS-L and course work allows them to see a variety of experiences with children and community members.  This application of course work in the community makes the academic course work more clear. 


Showcasing how we all develop

"The best way to learn about children and adolescents is to spend time with them," said Schmalzried.  The connection between real world issues and classroom work really showcases how "we all develop," said Schmalzried.  It helps her students realize how everyone's life experiences are similar and different; their personal experiences are not representative of all.  Most of Schmalzried's students do not have children. Thus, the experiences they have allow the academic material to come to life outside of the books and discussion.


A personal and academic connection to AS-L

Tanya Bednarek, a psychology major from Cloquet, MN, described how she had the opportunity to see children's language skills develop while serving with the Lil' Lumberjacks Learning Center.  She was able to apply what she was learning in Schmalzried's course to the preschool where she served.  Additionally, she witnessed varying degrees of development.  It was rewarding, said Bednarek, to interact with the children who were excited to see her.  As a parent, Bednarek said she will apply what she learns to her personal life as her daughter grows and develops.


Serving as a role model

Jamie Blackwood, a psychology major from Sandstone, MN, felt that getting to know the children and serving as a role model for them at Noah's Ark Daycare was the most rewarding aspect of her service.  During class lectures on developmental milestones, Blackwood was able to understand the different developmental stages and behavioral principles in the young children at the daycare.  It solidified her desire to work with juveniles in her future.  She liked the real-world application. "Life's not just out of a book," affirmed Blackwood.

Academic Service-Learning is an innovative teaching and learning strategy that provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge and learn new skills by matching academic goals to the needs of community organizations. Students apply concepts and skills they learn in the classroom and give that knowledge back to the community. In return, they gain practical experience while serving others.

News Contact: Katelyn Baumann | 715-394-8429 | kbauman2{atuws}
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