Final Blog: Summer Goals Accomplished

As I say that my summer goals are accomplished, I should say that they are accomplished in regard to my Teaching and Learning Grant (and almost, but not quite, for a research project I hope to finish in the next several months – now I will focus my energy on this research). I am very satisfied with completion of my items for the Teaching and Learning Grant because I love Service Learning and I think that I have produced some documents that will assist future instructors who want to consider giving students and community partners this valuable experience.

In review, this project aimed to add a service learning component to the Degree Completion Program Psychology course, Program Evaluation, which is a core part of the curriculum for the DCP Psychology degree. This course addresses the need for ongoing assessment of program effectiveness, from defining the goals and objectives of the program, assessing need, planning, collecting information about aspects of a program, and designing and conducting evaluations of programs to improve them. The service learning component added an applied activity to this already existing course, which allowed students to work together to complete an actual program evaluation of a local program in need.

I piloted the course with the service learning component so that one cohort of students had the opportunity to conduct an actual evaluation of a program to assist the program. This involved modifying the course to include service learning, partnering with a program, conducting the modified course, and gathering quantitative and qualitative satisfaction data from students.

By conducting this course with a service learning component, students were able to complete a full program evaluation of an actual program (an applied experience which does not always occur in Program Evaluation courses), were able to assist a program in their pursuit of improvement, and were able to contribute to all stages of a program evaluation.

The main documents I produced this summer include final revisions to the Facilitators Guide for Program Evaluation that incorporates a servicer learning component and a final report based on my experience piloting this component, along with work samples from my piloting experience.

One challenge I faced is that although I do have student satisfaction data for this experience, I do not have any satisfaction data from our community partner, although they certainly expressed appreciation of our assistance repeatedly. In fact, the program evaluation we completed when I piloted this experience helped the agency expand their program to another population! One challenge with assisting and under-staffed and under-resourced program is that the few staff they have might not have time to complete satisfaction surveys. I do hope that future instructors will communicate with me and collect more satisfaction data. Additionally, future research could look beyond satisfaction to see if students who have the service learning experience learn more about Program Evaluation than those who do not.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on piloting my class with service learning and have enjoyed producing documents that might help other instructors. I am grateful for the opportunity to accomplish this project and grateful to have received a 2014 Teaching and Learning Grant.

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