Service-Learning Projects, Social Justice, and Expediency | College of Arts and Sciences – Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska 2021-02-23 02:47:47 –

Tracy Bridgeford, Ph.D., Chairman of the UNO Faculty of English. Shares the experience of incorporating service-learning into a dual-level capstone course in technical communication.

It takes a little more preparation to include the service-learning project in the course, but I think it’s well worth the effort. Besides, I taught the course asynchronously. It added another level to the preparation. Given a service-learning project, students needed to navigate Zoom to get to know their clients and their customers, discuss the project and its expectations, and share their work throughout the semester. This is an even more difficult task due to the pandemic.

In the summer of 2020, I started looking for a project for a dual level capstone course in technical communication and met with representatives and community members of the Service Learning Academy (SLA). My criteria for choosing a project include important writing, editing, and design work for the project, whether the project has enough work to ensure a collaborative project with 3 students per group. Whether the project needs to be the theme of social justice with the Omaha community and I designed the course. Students taking the course came from a Master’s degree program in English and a master’s degree in critical and creative thinking programs.

I chose three community partners that included underrepresented groups in their organization, including Generation Diamond, Omaha Home for Boys, and The Collective of Hope. Generation Diamond works with recently imprisoned people to help develop skills in job acquisition and retention, connect with other institutions to complete the necessary community service opportunities, and graduate from GED or high school. Get a certificate. Omaha Home for Boys supports and strengthens young people, young adults and families through services that provide inspiration and equipment for young people, young adults and families to lead independent and productive lives. The Collective of Hope strives to grow and understand the sadness of the community and its various styles and learn how to best serve the Omaha community.

Projects include various printed documents such as designing content management structures for content, creating reports, creating PowerPoint slides for specific organizational programs, coding / designing websites, creating / designing brochures, creating forms, and more. Includes the creation of digital communications. .. The student was responsible for contacting the client, negotiating the required work and introducing the project. On the final day of the class, the students gave presentations to each other, three community members, and SLA staff.

I think the course was successful. Not only did the students enjoy working on the project, but they also enjoyed reading and discussing social justice that we read throughout the semester. In the discussion, the students interacted with each other, looked back on their position, and promised to make the changes they wanted to see in our city. In particular, we discussed the main themes of technical communication, the value of convenience and its consequences, and how we (all of us) can influence community change.

In a final review, one student said:

surely. It was nice to see students question their beliefs and values ​​by not only reading the texts they needed, but also working on challenging service-learning projects. We look forward to re-incorporating service-learning projects at professional and technical writing seminars in the fall of 2021. It was definitely worth it.

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