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Service Learning

    Service-learning gives students real-world learning experiences that enhance their academic learning and provide tangible benefits to the community. 

    By incorporating community work into the curriculum, Harford Community College connects service and volunteerism directly with active and experiential learning. The results benefit not only the students but community partners and service recipients.

    Types of Service Learning

    Harford students are able to participate in several types of service learning opportunities.

    Direct service projects (DSP)

    Direct service projects (DSP) involve working with community partners. This type of service learning directly impacts the individuals who receive services from students.

    General Examples: working directly with homeless and food-insecure persons, tutoring adults or children, etc.

    Indirect service projects (ISP)

    Indirect service projects (ISP) involve assisting community partners with work they are already doing. Students working on behalf of community partners indirectly benefit individuals.

    General Examples: building or restoring homes, organizing or taking part in a community clean up or restoration of an ecosystem, etc.

    Harford Examples:
    Harford Arts Center – MATH 216 (Introduction to Statistics)  Professor Chris Jones Students collaborated with the Harford Arts Center to organize and characterize their volunteer database. Students applied knowledge learned in an introductory statistics course to organize and summarize a database that housed information for over 150 volunteers spanning approximately a decade. Additionally, students also conducted research focusing on best practices on recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers for non-profit organizations. Finally, students prepared a formal report of findings and presented these findings to the manager and employees of the Harford Arts Center.

    Advocacy service projects (ASP)

    Advocacy service projects (ASP) involve students working on behalf of a community partner. This type of service learning educates the public on issues that impact the community at large.

    General Examples: organizing or conducting public information campaigns, giving presentations about topics of importance to the community, etc.

    Action/research service projects (ARSP)

    Action/research service projects (ARSP) involve investigating systemic issues affecting community partners and those they serve. This type of service learning involves conducting research about important needs and projects for the community and presenting or reporting the findings.

    General Examples: creating a multi-lingual community services resource; mapping natural resources; gathering information about community needs, etc.

    Harford Examples:
    Food Insecurity in Harford County – MATH 216 (Introduction to Statistics) Professor Chris Jones Students collaborated to recreate a survey aimed at gathering information about food insecurity within Harford Community College student population. Students applied knowledge learned in an introductory statistics course to organize, analyze, summarize, and interpret the results of this survey. Students also conducted research focusing on food insecurity at colleges and opportunities to mitigate food insecurities. Finally, students prepared a formal report of the findings and presented these findings to the Office of Student life. The results are to be used to assess changes needed at the Harford Community College Food Pantry to better serve the students and to mitigate food insecurity at Harford.

    Food Insecurity on College Campuses – SOC 102 (Social Problems) Professor John Donahue Students worked in groups to research food insecurity, specifically among college students. From there, they needed to create research-based presentations about food insecurity on college campuses that they would use to inform students about the HCC Food Pantry. Their presentations were presented not just in their class but in two additional classes (such as Math, Psychology, Sociology, and Sculpture). Finally, students must reflect on their projects and what they learned about food insecurity and about themselves. The goal of this project is to inform the students and others on campus about HCC’s Food Pantry and the necessity for this resource on this and other campuses.

    Escherichia coli source tracking at Otter Point Creek - BIO 120 (General Biology I) Professor Breonna Martin Drawing on their knowledge of DNA replication and gene expression to understand quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), students analyzed qPCR data to quantify E. coli and their respective host sources. Furthermore, students used the data that they analyzed to discuss the environmental impacts of upstream factors on aquatic habitats and local recreation centers.

    Benefits of Service Learning

    • Service Learning creates a positive impact on students’ academic learning. It allows students to apply their knowledge to real-world projects, and strengthen their analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.
    • Students develop an increased sense of personal efficacy and identity while expanding their ability to collaborate with others both as team members and leaders.
    • Service Learning broaden their inter-cultural awareness by working and networking with varied group of community members, organizations, and potential employers.