University of Utah
Special Education 500
"Service Project for At Risk Kids"
Marshall Welch, PhD
Required Text: Edelman, M.W. (1993). _The measure of our success: A letter to my children and yours._ New York: Harper Collins.
The service learning course is designed for non-education majors. The course will employ an ecological approach of exploring the needs of children and youth at-risk so students will gain a perspective from various disciplines (economic, sociological, health, educational, political). Students will gain insights regarding their role as citizens and professionals in meeting the needs of children and youth. The course will also explore implications of serving children and youth at-risk for society-at-large. The foundation of the course will be service projects working directly with children and youth considered to be at-risk in various community agencies for a minimum of two clock hours a week. The course will also consist of weekly class sessions to discuss various ecological perspectives, including presentations by guest speakers. Class discussions will also include a dialogue of students' personal experiences from their service projects.
Operational Definition of "At-risk"
At-risk is operationally defined as:
... any child or youth who, due to disabling, cultural, economic, or medical conditions, is (a) denied or has minimum equal opportunities and resources in a variety of settings and (b) is in jeopardy of failing to become a meaningful member of his or her community including home, school, business, and society" (Welch & Sheridan, 1995, p. 31).
The over-arching goal of this course is to provide opportunities for university students that will allow them broaden their personal perspective and experience regarding what it means to be a meaningful member of his or her community. Community membership is a reciprocal process and relationship. Within this context, activities have been designed so students gain greater insights about others, and perhaps more importantly, themselves.
The course has been designed to meet the following specific objectives:
1 . Students will list and describe various factors that may
make children and youth at-risk.
2. Students will list and describe various characteristics of children and youth at-risk.
3. Students will provide a service to children and youth at-risk. 4. Students will reflect upon their experiences to gain a
greater understanding of their role in meeting the needs of children and youth at-risk.
Tentative Course Outline
Each class session will consist of a presentation and reflective discussion.
Session #1 - Introduction: What Do We Mean When We Say At-Risk?
Letter Writing To Yourself Site/Project Selection & Assignments
Session #2 - Topic: Disabilities
In-class simulation activities Out-of-class simulation activities
Session #3 - Perspective: Economic
Session #4 - Topic: Poverty
Journal Submission/Review Out-of-class simulation activities
Session #5 - Perspective: Medical
Session #6 - Topic: Cultural/Ethnic/Linguistic Differences
Session #7 - Perspective: Political
Session #8 - Perspective: Social
Session #9 - Steps For Tomorrow: What Can We Do As Individuals?
Re-read Letters To Self
Session #10 - Summary Discussions:
How Will/Has This Experience Make An Impact on YOU As a Citizen/Professional? Final Report Due End-term Exam
Out-of-class simulation activities - Students will be asked to devote at least one full day to experience a simulated condition. One condition involves a simulated disability (walking on crutches, using a wheelchair, wearing a blind-fold, immobilizing the dominate hand, etc). Another condition will be voluntarily refraining from eating, use of money, personal transportation, etc. to simulate impoverished conditions.
Pre/Post Course Exam - A brief pre and post course exam will assess students' knowledge of basic terminology and concepts related to an ecological perspective of the at-risk population and related issues. The exam items will consist of multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank formats.
Journal Entries - Students are required to maintain a journal to record their experiences and feelings throughout the project. These entries can be used by the student as the final report is developed (see below). Students will also be expected to respond in their journals to a series of brief written passages from the course text. Responses to the text passages are intended to stimulate reflection and synthesize/apply ideas to each student's own project experience. Journals will be submitted and reviewed twice during the course. The review is not an evaluation procedure. Instead, the review is designed to promote a dialogue between student and instructor.
Class Participation - Students are expected to engage in course activities such as simulations and reflection dialogue. Student interaction and participation are viewed as a critically important element to the learning and reflection process.
Final Report - Students will complete and submit a final written report of their experience. The final report must address each of the following components:
Include any theoretical perspectives in your discussion.
Each of the four sections of final written report will be assessed using the following 5 point criteria:
5 = These responses fully address all components and present a thorough exploration of the topic. They show depth and complexity of thought and focused and coherent organization. The ideas are expressed with superior clarity, and precision.
4 = The essay responses address all components and present a substantial treatment of the topic, although they are not as coherent or as effectively organized as the 5-level papers. These essays show some depth of thought and coherent organization. The ideas are expressed with clarity and precision.
3 = These essay responses address all components but present only a moderate treatment of the topic. Like the 4-level papers, they show clarity of thought, but may lack complexity. The essays demonstrate coherent organization although some digressions may be evident. The ideas are generally expressed with clarity and precision.
2 = These essay responses may neglect or distort one or more of the components or present only a minimal treatment of the topic. They may show some clarity of thought but may be simplistic. Problems in organization may be evident. The essay demonstrates a basic fluency, but the language does not effectively communicate the writer's ideas.
1 = These essay responses seriously neglect or distort one or more of the report components. They demonstrate problems with organization and analysis of the topic. They may contain recurrent mechanical errors resulting in language that is occasionally difficuft to follow.
0 = These essay responses demonstrate marked problems with organization and mechanics that make the language very difficuft to follow. Alternatively, the essays may entirely fall to address the topic.
Criteria for Designation of Service Learning Course
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 11:03:48 MST From: Renee Buchanan <RBUCHAN@ssb1.saff.utah.edu>