The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Instructor promotes service learning

By Matt Fulkerson/reporter

An emerging form of instruction, known as community-oriented service learning, is making its way into college-level courses, and on Sept. 11, a NW English instructor provided insight for students.

In Turning the Classroom Inside Out: Service-Oriented Classroom Activities, Thomas Tutt spoke with students about the power individuals and small groups can have on their communities.

“What we’re doing with service learning is taking your success and moving that into the community,” he said.

He emphasized the distinction between service learning and community service by showing how service learning uses specific concepts and ideas learned in the classroom to affect change.

“I was interested in learning about the different ways I can learn about a subject,” said Brendan McCann, a NW freshman.

Tutt explained that while major change can come from large organizations, students have the ability to fix problems in their own communities using skills developed in the college classroom.

“I want to talk about the problems you can fix by being a student,” he said.

Service learning provides a way students can take what they have learned inside the classroom and apply this knowledge to needs outside of school. While resources may come from larger outside sources, much of the work is performed by individuals, Tutt said.

“Part of a college education is learning what it means to be part of a community,” he said.

While getting a degree is an important milestone of the college experience, students should also understand how they can apply their college education to the world around them, Tutt said.

Although some forms of service learning incorporate students performing hands-on activities outside of school, it is not a requirement.

Tutt said he uses service learning projects in his freshman English classes through the writing process by encouraging students to think of specific needs that must be met in the community and realistic solutions to those problems.

“That is part of the writing process — sitting down, thinking about a problem and identifying solutions,” he said.

When assigning these types of projects, Tutt asks his students to develop a research-based presentation about the problem they have identified in addition to a business proposal explaining specific solutions.

“I’m not doing anything revolutionary by focusing on community service needs,” he said. “All I’m doing is making the community part of the class. Turning the class inside out.”

Nursing student Ann Marie Williams left with newfound knowledge.

“I understand now that helping others doesn’t have to come from resources,” she said. “It comes from the boldness in you to put a pen to the paper and explain what you want to do.”

Although hands-on activities are an important part of the process, explaining to others in an intelligent way how a problem can be fixed is just as important, Tutt said.

“You’d be surprised at what you and a group of dedicated friends can accomplish just by identifying that a problem exists,” he said.

Tutt said he encourages his fellow instructors to pursue service learning-style instruction in their classrooms, noting that major changes in curriculum are not necessary.

“On the most basic level, it’s enough to get students thinking about their education as it relates to the world around them,” he said.

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