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Service Learning presentations at National FYE conference

Posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2012
Last week, I attended my first National First Year Experience Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  I came home with tons of ideas and little time to implement them, of course.  What I enjoyed most about the conference was hearing the perspectives of academic advisors, student affairs experts, First Year Experience staff, faculty and administrators.  We librarians were represented fairly well, too.  All of us came together with common goals:  student success and meaningful student learning. Service-learning and information literacy were both well-represented at the conference (separately).  One presenter recounted his experience teaching a service-learning first-year seminar, during which his students tutored English language learners.  He allowed his students to select their own community partners, which I find incredibly fascinating and equally frightening!  In some ways, the students choosing where they tutored made it more meaningful to them.  They were more invested.  Some tutored at their former middle or high schools, others chose to work with their church group.  Some students stayed on to tutor after the semester was over.  In other ways, I would think it would be difficult for the University or the faculty member to maintain relationships with so many community partners.  Also, if students go back to the environments in which they are comfortable, are we really requiring them to stretch?  Then again, as long as they are engaging, isn't that the most important point? Another presentation, I attended, facilitated by students, highlighted how much the students got out of their service-learning experience.