The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2006 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

SERVICE LEARNING INCORPORATED INTO RESPIRATORY CARE CURRICULUM PROVIDES BOTH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Mary P. Martinasek BS, RRT
Hillsborough Community College
Tampa, Florida

Background: The concept of service learning as been evolving for several decades and its implementation in community college and universities is becoming increasingly more prevalent, not only for scholarship, but additionally, as a form of experiential student learning and civic engagement. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that incorporates actively engaged learning beyond the classroom and fosters both the educational growth of the student concomitantly with the observed needs of the community. Service learning is a structured opportunity for students to gain valuable knowledge through student teaching in the community and at the same time impact the community.

Method: Hillsborough Community College's Respiratory Care program partners with the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America/Florida to provide asthma education to daycare center employees and parents. The structured program entitled Essentials provides an overview of asthma education at a basic community level. The students are educated on the teaching methods and evaluation tools of the program and are provided supplemental literature on asthma to provide to the daycare centers. Specific learning outcomes are designed for the service learning project in addition to opportunities for reflection. These can be represented in a variety of forms including, discussions, essays, journals, and portfolios. The purpose of incorporating service learning during the second year of the respiratory care program is to further enhance and reinforce previous attained knowledge of asthma. To meet the initial requirements of the service learning project the students are required to provide a minimum of ten hours of service learning during a given semester. The students are provided with a list of available opportunities and arrange time outside of the classroom to participate in service learning.

Results:  Undoubtedly learning is enhanced through teaching and subsequently teaching enhances interpersonal skills, critical thinking skills, time management and a greater appreciation for civic engagement. Since the students are required to teach Essentials, they are continually practicing the presentation and reviewing the materials to assure confidence in their presentations. The students accomplish both service objectives and learning objectives through hands on community based teaching. Service learning provides a knowledge benefit to the students and a health benefit to the community.

Conclusion:  Service learning can enrich the learning experience of the student by helping them to learn through teaching. It provides reciprocal advantages to both the student's learning and to the community's needs. Asthma is the number one cause of school absenteeism and education is the key to reducing the unnecessary doctor visits and school absenteeism. With service learning the students gain a greater appreciation for knowledge and have the ability to see first hand the impact of education in the community.

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