Course taps into the benefits of service learning

Madelyn Law

Madelyn Law

Health Sciences Associate Professor Madelyn Law believes in the power of service-learning.

Law has developed a number of very successful programs at Brock that offer students the opportunity to combine their academic learning with community engagement.

This year, she’ll bring her impressive track record to a graduate level non-credit course as the instructor of The Theory and Practice of Service-Learning (GRST 5N02). The course is a partnership between the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) and the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS).

Law recently began a two-year appointment as the University’s new faculty associate for service-learning. The graduate course is one example of her new role in which she will work closely with CPI and the Service-Learning Resource Centre to provide leadership in integrating service-learning into courses and programs.

GRST 5N02, now in its second year, is open to graduate students from all Faculties and the completion of a GRST course appears on the Brock academic transcript. FGS and CPI also partner on another non-credit graduate level course focused on teaching that is also being offered this fall. Registration for both non-credit graduate level courses is under way. Details are posted on the FGS website.

In GRST 5N02, students will meet bi-weekly throughout the year to discuss core principles in service-learning and will engage in a community-based project in their field of interest. This course will allow students to understand how their skills and knowledge are transferable to work environments while also allowing for a positive contribution to a community organization.

“This course has tremendous potential for graduate students who want to learn about how they can apply their academic skills and knowledge to make a positive contribution to the community,” says Law.

“For some that will mean a new experience. And for others who are already working with a community partner, this course will help them to optimize their performance and to receive academic acknowledgement for the work they do.

“Graduate students are such a good fit for community work. They are multi-talented and invested in doing research that will make a difference. They come away from this experience with a better idea of how to think about a career path after graduate studies, in which they can apply their skills and knowledge, that is meaningful for them.”

Law’s past success with service-learning programs includes I-EQUIP in which Brock students work with health system professionals in Niagara on specific projects related to health quality. Projects include the co-design of education resources with patients, family and health professionals in oncology, a pediatric rapid assessment clinic, and reducing wait times for special consults in emergency department.

Law was also a co-facilitator for the Social Innovation Research Associate Program (SIRAP) in which an interdisciplinary team of Brock graduate students volunteered their research skills to work with Niagara Connects on producing the 2014 Living in Niagara Report. The other SIRAP facilitator was Karin Perry, graduate cooordinator, training and development, in the FGS. Law and Perry will collaborate again to link GRST 5N02 to Brock’s Vitae Essential Skills programming for all graduate students.

“The course will connect with Vitae programming that focuses on giving grad students opportunities to discuss and explore the constellation of researcher communication skills that are an essential set of skills for community research practitioners,” says Perry. “Through self-reflective work, grad students will also have the time and space to uncover, discuss and articulate specific transferrable skills, talents and career interests.”

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One comment on “Course taps into the benefits of service learning”

  1. Phuc Dang says:

    Congratulations Madelyn on your new service learning course! 🙂 I wished I was still at Brock to enroll in that course!